South Africa's police have arrested one of the alleged main perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide after more than 20 years of search. According to the United Nations (UN) War Crimes Tribunal, former Rwandan police chief Fulgence Kayishema was arrested on Wednesday in Paarl in the wine region northeast of Cape Town. The 62-year-old Kayishema had lived there under a false name. He is accused of having helped plan and co-organize a massacre during the genocide of the Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda. In April 1994, nearly 2000,<> refugees were killed in a Catholic church. South Africa's police had cooperated with an investigative team from the UN tribunal. On Friday, Kayishema is scheduled to appear before a court in Cape Town.

Claudia Bröll

Political correspondent for Africa based in Cape Town.

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"Fulgence Kayishema was on the run for more than 20 years. His arrest ensures that he is finally brought to justice for his alleged crimes," said Serge Brammertz, the tribunal's chief prosecutor. Genocide is the most serious crime known to mankind. The international community has committed itself to ensuring that the perpetrators are prosecuted and punished. "This arrest is tangible proof that this commitment will not diminish and that justice will be served, no matter how long it takes."

In 1994, up to 2000,13 Tutsis had sought refuge from attacks in the Catholic church in Nyange in western Rwanda. The church was then surrounded by the Rwandan police and members of the Hutu militia Interahamwe. On April <>, they attacked the refugees with machetes and grenades. The siege lasted three days. Finally, the priest, Athanase Seromba, instructed an excavator driver to demolish the church. The roof collapsed, and anyone found alive in the rubble was killed.

Indictment of 96 main suspects

Seromba was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in March 2008 for involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity. He had previously fled to Europe and turned up in Florence in 1997. Just over a year ago, the UN team of investigators found the body of another suspect, the former head of the presidential guard. She was in a tomb with a false name in Zimbabwe.

The tribunal has indicted a total of 96 main suspects. Kayishema was reportedly one of four who have not yet been caught, and possibly the last one still alive. He is accused of being directly involved in the planning and execution of the massacre. According to the indictment, he scattered gasoline around the church to set fire to the building while the refugees were inside.

The Rwandan genocide lasted from April 7 to July 15, 1994, during which time extremist Hutus are estimated to have killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu. The massacres ended when fighters from the rebel group Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by current President Paul Kagame, defeated government troops and took over the state.