Protais Zigiranyirazo was governor of Ruhengeri Province in Rwanda when Fossey worked there.
Zigiranyirazo was also the brother-in-law of the Hutu President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana,
whose death in an as yet unsolved plane crash ignited the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
KILLING FOSSEY LEAST ZED CRIME
Zigiranyirazo remains a likely suspect in Fossey's murder.
He was involved in illegal trading in endangered species and gold smuggling out of Congo.
But the murder of Dian Fossey never entered into the equation,
since it was considered a lesser crime as compared to
the murder of 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994.
It was a shock yesterday to read in the news that one of the masterminds of the Rwandan Genocide - who was captured, charged, convicted, sentenced and then imprisoned ten years ago - has now been "set free" by the criminal United Nations (UN) court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Protais Zigiranyirazo - the brother of the wife of the genocidal ex-Rwandan president - is another big fish now swimming free, while at the same time small-fry are being netted at a cost of millions to Western World taxpayers. See RWANDA SUSPECT CANADA CAUGHT & HABYARIMANA WIFE DENIES GENOCIDE.
What adds insult to injury - in this travesty of justice - is that Zigiranyirazo intends to claim financial compensation for the eight and a half years he's been imprisoned in Tanzania. He's a goldmine for lawyers who enrich themselves defending genocidaires.
This man - known as "Mister Zed" - has the blood of thousands of Rwandan Tutsis on his hands. And, as if that's not evil enough, he's also suspected of collaborating in the death of Dian Fossey - the world-renowned protector of Rwanda's greatest natural resource - the gorillas.
Without the gorillas, Rwanda's raison d'etre as a tourist destination is highly jeopardized. People don't go to Rwanda to look at genocide memorials. They go, in the main, to visit the gorillas - the ones Dian Fossey loved more than life itself - and which are now, symbolically - with her killer being released - under threat of extinction.
My personal interest in Rwanda began in 1994 when I first heard about the genocide. At that time I wasn't aware that it was the home of Dian Fossey's gorillas. I'd seen the movie GORILLAS IN THE MIST - when it came out in 1988 - but it hadn't registered in my mind that it was filmed in Rwanda.
Learning, years later, that Rwanda is the home of Dian Fossey's 'children', it tipped the scale in favour of my visiting there, to see with my own eyes its heroes, its victims and its gorillas. See GORILLAS CALLING TO RWANDA
Since VISITING RWANDAS RARE GORILLAS & WEIGHING IN ON SILVERBACKS three years ago, I've been following their progress under the present Rwandan government - the one that came to power after stopping the genocide perpetrated by masterminds like Mr Zed Zigiranyirazo.
The peace, stability and developing prosperity of Rwanda has rejuvenated the gorillas. Their habitat is expanding and they are multiplying healthily - with "baby naming" ceremonies conducted every year - with President Kagame often attending.
Yes, on the Rwandan side of the Virunga Volcanoes, the gorillas are thriving.
But on the Congo side of the mountains, gorillas are being slaughtered for bush-meat and their habitat is being destroyed by Rwandan Hutu genocidaires hiding in their midst and chopping down trees for illegal production of charcoal.
This has been well documented by National Geographic magazine over the years, the photos above and below taken from the July 2008 edition.
The only person who was protecting the gorillas in Congo - until his disappearance ten months ago - was General Laurent Nkunda and his CNDP soldiers - the Congolese equivalent of General Paul Kagame and his RPF soldiers - both who came to fame protecting their Tutsi people from genocidal Hutus bent on their annihilation. See NKUNDA ARREST PUTS GORILLAS AT RISK & NKUNDA GEURRILLA GORILLA TOURS & KABILA-CHINA-GORILLAS-NKUNDA
Two weeks before he was last seen alive by any news reporter (although the government of Rwanda says he's safely under house arrest) Nkunda gave an interview to a journalist involved in the conservation of gorillas, who is also the author of a book about Dian Fossey. Shortly after, Georgianne Nienebar posted the links to her video of NKUNDA'S LAST CONGO INTERVIEW and I transcribed them, word for word, to share with "Orwell Today" readers.
Throughout the interview, Nkunda talks about the importance of gorillas to the prosperity of Congo - saying that they are its wealth - even more than gold, diamonds, or oil - because gorillas are wealth that "never finishes", but keeps on growing - unlike the others which can be "used up" with exploitation.
Nkunda also explained, in the interview, that the area where the gorillas live is his ancestral homeland - the place where his father was a chief, and where he himself is a chief - and therefore he has an inherent interest in protecting the gorillas - keeping them safe for their own sake and also to bring prosperity to his people of North Kivu - comprised of various tribes, including Hutu and Tutsi. See NKUNDA SAVED CONGO GORILLAS & NKUNDA'S CONGO CREDENTIALS
Now, with Zigiranyirazo OUT of jail and Nkunda IN jail (both at the behest of UNITED NATIONS, the BIG BROTHER organization Orwell described as "a dedicated sect doing evil") what will become of Congo's Tutsis and gorillas?
Is Mr Zed now free to "finish the work" of the "interahamwe" - the killing of gorillas and Tutsis that he started in 1985 and ALMOST completed in 1994? Or will he be opposed?
Today, in a search for reaction to the release of Mr Zed, I found an article by Georgianne Nienabar, which gives further background on the murder of Dian Fossey and poses a similar question about whether this will propel Rwanda into action, for the sake of the Great Lakes Region of Africa. ~ Jackie Jura
UN COURT ACQUITS SUSPECTED MURDERER OF DIAN FOSSEY
by Georgianne Nienabar
Op Ed News, Nov 17, 2009
In a very sad day for Rwanda, The International Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced it has overturned a 20-year sentence and acquitted Protais Zigiranyirazo, accused genocidaire and suspected murderer of American primatologist Dian Fossey.
Citing "serious errors" during the 2008 trial, ICTR Chamber Judge Theodore Meron ordered the immediate release of Zigiranyirazo, known as Mr. Z. This news came at the same time that international prosecutors were meeting in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss the future of international criminal justice....
The murder of Dian Fossey never entered into the equation, since it was considered a lesser crime as compared to the murder of 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994. The evidence remains overwhelming that Zigiranyirazo instituted the roadblocks in and around the city of Gisenyi and ordered the immediate execution of anyone carrying a Tutsi ID card. One can only imagine the angst the people of the province are feeling today. The survivors are mainly young people who witnessed the execution of their parents and grandparents.
Protais Zigiranyirazo was governor of Ruhengeri Province in Rwanda when Fossey worked there. Zigiranyirazo was also the brother-in-law of the Hutu President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in an as yet unsolved plane crash ignited the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In a recent controversial ruling, a French tribunal also implicated the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in the plane crash.
Zigiranyirazo remains a likely suspect in Fossey's murder. He was involved in illegal trading in endangered species and gold smuggling out of Congo, and there is much additional evidence in the historical record that Fossey was about to expose him when she was murdered. He was also the brother-in-law of then Rwandan president Habyarimana and member of the "Akazu", a term literally meaning "a small house," the inner circle of President Habyarimana.
Shortly before Fossey's murder on December 26, 1985, the acting chargé d' affaires of the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Helen Weinland, returned to the States for some routine medical exams that took longer than necessary. It was this turn of events that left Emerson Melaven as her temporary replacement after the Christmas holiday. In early interviews with the international media, Melaven stated that he and his colleagues were impressed by the Rwandan government's response to the murder.
Helen Weinland's memoirs of those days paint a different picture. She indicates that she followed initial events surrounding the murder with some frustration that she was not back at her post in Kigali. By the time she returned very little progress had been made in the murder investigation. Weinland states unequivocally that "...it is difficult to believe that the trial to find Dian's killer was a rigorous search for the truth."
Perhaps this turn of events will propel Rwanda to institute a rigorous investigation of Fossey's murder. It may be that the murder of one will end up to be the undoing of the man who got off on a technicality for the murder of thousands....
On the day I visited the grave of Dian Fossey, raindrops covered the surface of a marker that was written in Kinyarwandan. The raindrops looked like tears.
"You Nyiramacyibili, that loved Rwanda -
you gave your life to the gorillas in Virunga.
This Karisoke you created has reserved
for you peace and love that cannot be threatened by a spear."
International court acquits suspected murderer of Dian Fossey, by Georgianne Nienabar, Op Ed News, Nov 17, 2009
2009 THE YEAR OF THE GORILLA (United Nations declares). YoG
Fossey death suspect to face war crimes trial. Independent, Jul 31, 2001 (...Mr Zigiranyirazo, who is the 63-year-old brother-in-law of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, was arrested on 26 July 2001 at a refugee detention centre after trying to claim asylum in Belgium...)
Dian Fossey murdered in Rwanda, CBC Broadcast, Jan 16, 1986
Making Friends With Mountain Gorillas, by Dian Fossey, National Geographic, January 1970
Lawyer calls spectacular victories 'good luck'
(Attorney won genocide, axe murder cases in '09)
Toronto Star, Jan 4, 2010
Peter Zaduk isn't a household name, but every Torontonian knows his work.... Last month, his courtroom finesse freed a Hutu politician previously convicted of 2,000 deaths in the Rwandan genocide.... It's not every lawyer who in the course of a single year has won a lesbian-love-quadrangle-axe-murder and a genocide case. It's a little dizzying for me to realize that I actually pulled them off.... "At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I was defending one of the most unpopular people in the world. Protais Zigiranyirazo had been condemned by the world press and was said to be one of the central conspirators of the genocide. But when it came to presenting evidence against him, they couldn't prove any of that. "Just because you are targeted and have a certain notoriety doesn't mean you're guilty. That's what these trials are for.... "I don't think criminal lawyers are supposed to have moral qualms. Someone has to defend genocide or murder or heroin dealing or whatever. People are not morally guilty unless they're proven guilty after a fair trial. "Being presented with a criminal case is a lot like being presented with a chess position. "Some lawyers can see a lot of possibility by applying the law to the position and some lawyers don't see anything. Sometimes I puzzle over the position for quite a long time before some ray of light emerges."
Rwanda genocide ruling overturned
BBC, Nov 16, 2009
The UN tribunal hearing cases from the 1994 Rwandan genocide has freed a man who had been sentenced to 22 years....Reporters say Mr Zigiranyirazo looked stunned and relieved by the ruling. "God is great and justice has been done. I am very happy," he told the BBC's Great Lakes service.... Mr Zigiranyirazo told the BBC he would be seeking compensation for the eight-and-half years he had already spent in detention. Rwanda's justice minister told the BBC the government was very unhappy about the decision, but could not reverse the judgement...
Release of Rwanda’s mastermind of death promotes genocide denial
("Mr Z's" freedom bolsters confidence of those who said the mass killings in Rwanda were not planned)
by Patrick Karuretwa, Harvard Law Record, Dec 4, 2009
The recent encouraging news of the arrest in Germany of two of Rwanda’s suspected criminals, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, overshadowed the latest development in the appeal chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). On November 16, the tribunal reversed a 20 year prison sentence and ordered the immediate release of Protais Zigiranyirazo (“Mr. Z”). Based on a finding of ‘serious errors’ in the first chamber’s handling of the defendant’s alibi, the decision immediately sparked a wave of protest and consternation in Rwanda and the Rwandan diaspora....
But Mr. Z is not your usual genocide suspect. He is largely considered one of its masterminds. Many feared him too much to pronounce his full name, for Mr. Z is the brother of Agathe Kanziga, wife of the former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana. Zigiranyirazo’s reputation as a radical extremist went beyond Rwanda’s borders. In 1993, he was expelled from the Université de Québec à Montréal – and then from Canada altogether – after being convicted of uttering death threats against Tutsi refugees in Montreal. He moved back to Rwanda, where he was already known as the head of the ‘Akazu’, an informal but powerful organization revolving around the former president’s wife, who controlled the ominous ‘Zero Network’ death squads.
The existence and sinister agenda of the ‘Zero Network’ death squads were revealed as early as 1992 in the Rwandan press and confirmed in various local and international fora throughout the years that led to the genocide. General Roméo Dallaire, the UN peacekeeping commander, sent a now-famous report to New York in January 1994 based on the very detailed information and warnings provided by Jean Pierre, one of several defectors of the ‘Zero Network’. Everything Dallaire’s informant told him became reality three months later, and close to a million human beings were slaughtered. Like all other defectors, Jean Pierre had mentioned ‘Mr. Z’ as one of the key actors in the preparations.
Today, Mr ‘Z’ is a free man. The Trial Chamber, because of serious procedural errors, had led to a finding that he is not guilty. The memories of thousands of Rwandans of the vicious anti-Tutsi roadblocks he had established in direct proximity of all his residences in Kigali and Gisenyi weigh little or nothing to the court. It is useful to remember that the ICTR was established by the UN Security Council Resolution 955 with the dual objectives of accountability and deterrence on the one hand and reconciliation and peace on the other hand. In the words of Richard Goldstone, the Tribunal’s first prosecutor, the ICTR trial process is “an important means of promoting peace and reconciliation in Rwanda, providing catharsis to survivors.” By clearing Protais Zigiranyirazo of any culpability, the appeal chamber arguably followed international standards of justice. The consequence of that decision, however, is not a simple mistrial. It is the acquittal of a man whose acts, though not properly documented by a prosecutor, are not easily forgotten in a country where genocide was committed in broad daylight....
‘Mr. Z’ was reportedly still stunned by the appeal chamber’s decision when a news release co-signed by his lead defense attorney, Jean Philpot, celebrated the rejection, for the second time, of the charge againt him of genocide planning. The press release also calls for “the ICTR trials to be halted, ICTR convictions to be reviewed by an independent UN Commission, and the conditional release of detainees”. Interestingly enough, Jean Philpot is the brother of no other than Robin Philpot, the Canadian politician who, in 2007, attracted intense media attention for repeatedly denying the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis.
For Jean Philpot, Peter Erlinder and others, the concept is quite simple: no planning = no intent = no genocide. But the genocide deniers’ campaign goes beyond the ICTR trials. A small but very active group of academics, often with ties of some kind to the ICTR defense lawyers, does not miss an opportunity to propagate their revisionist views. In the words of Professor Gerald Caplan: “the deniers’ reach and influence has been spreading, metastasizing like a malignant cancer, thanks to the anarchy of the blogosphere and to the embrace of the deniers’ arguments by a small but influential number of left-wing, anti-American journals and websites. Google Rwanda and you will quite likely get a deniers’ rant featuring the tiny band of usual suspects.…”
Similarly, Oxford University’s Phil Clarck worries about the increasing influence of deniers in the form of “scholars pursuing the latest academic fads that revel in ‘alternative narratives’, no matter how spurious or morally questionable; ‘génocidaires’ seeking to deflect attention from their crimes; and critics of the current Rwandan government who try to connect alleged RPF crimes to unrelated concerns with its current policies.” Despite the lack of evidence for their assertions and the extensive works of reputable scholars and organizations that amply documented the planning of the 1994 genocide, this group persists. Could we be witnessing their increasing influence over the ICTR? An increasing number of genocide survivors apparently think so....
International standards of justice certainly have their own merits. There is, however, room for much more thinking on their societal impact in a post-conflict context. For several years, Rwandan genocide survivors have been accusing the ICTR of repeatedly neglecting and watering down their testimonies. Today, they are once again in dismay. They feel ignored and abandoned, blocked from appaearing before the ICTR’s bench in Arusha, Tanzania, to tell the terrible truth. Arusha’s justice is not theirs if it considers Mr. Z an innocent man. The ICTR has spent more than 1 billion dollars and completed less than 50 cases. With its profound detachment from Rwanda’s social realities, the tribunal could not be further from its claimed objective of contributing to national reconciliation.
ICTR overturns genocide conviction of Mr "Z"
Radio Netherland, Nov 17, 2009
The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appeals chamber has acquitted a Rwandan leader who was sentenced to 20 years in prison over the 1994 genocide because of shortcomings in the evidence. The Appeals Chamber reversed Protais Zigiranyirazo’s convictions for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and entered a verdict of acquittal. It then ordered his immediate release from he United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania.
On 18 December 2008, Trial Chamber III found Zigiranyirazo guilty of committing genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity by participating in a joint criminal enterprise to kill Tutsis at Kesho Hill in Gisenyi Prefecture on 8 April 1994 and sentenced him to two terms of 20 years of imprisonment. He was also found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide in relation to the killing of Tutsis at a roadblock in the Kiyovu area of Kigali and sentenced to one term of 15 years of imprisonment. The Trial Chamber ordered that these sentences be served concurrently. The Appeals Chamber reversed Zigiranyirazo’s convictions after finding several serious factual and legal errors in the Trial Chamber’s assessment of his alibi in respect of both events on which his convictions were based.
Zigiranyirazo was born on 2 February 1938 in the Giciye Commune, Gisenyi Prefecture, Rwanda. He was the brother-in-law of the late former President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana. Zigiranyirazo became a Member of Parliament in 1969. In 1973, he was appointed Prefect of Kibuye and then served as Prefect of Ruhengeri from 1974 until 1989. After his resignation, he studied in Canada and returned to Rwanda in 1993 to work as a businessman. Zigiranyirazo was arrested in Belgium on 26 July 2001 and transferred to the Tribunal on 3 October 2001. His trial commenced on 3 October 2005 and closed on 29 May 2008. He was assisted by John Pilpot and Peter Zaduk, both from Canada.
Rwanda's notorious "Mr Z" let out of prison
AP, Nov 16, 2009
Rwandan genocide court overturns conviction of brother-in-law of former Rwandan president, Breaking News 24/7, Nov 16, 2009
Arusha, Tanzania (AP) - A U.N. appeals court on Monday overturned the conviction of the former Rwandan president’s brother-in-law, who had been sentenced to 20 years for organizing a massacre that left about 1,000 dead during the 1994 genocide. The judge said that serious errors had been committed during Protais Zigiranyirazo’s 2008 conviction and sentencing, and ordered him to be released immediately. Zigiranyirazo, 71, stood in disbelief in the courtroom on Monday. "God is great and justice has been done"," he told The Associated Press after the judge overturned the sentence. At least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during Rwanda’s genocide, which began after President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was brought down in April 1994. Zigiranyirazo, an influential member of the Rwandan government at the time, was his brother-in-law. In a 30-page ruling, the appeals court said Monday that it had reversed Zigiranyirazo’s convictions for genocide and crimes against humanity because those convictions had "violated the most basic and fundamental principles of justice". "In these circumstances, the Appeals Chamber had no choice, but to reverse Zigiranyirazo’s conviction," the ruling said. Judge Theodor Meron said the trial judgment had "seriously erred in its handling of the evidence." Lead defense lawyer John Philpot said that Zigiranyirazo, known as "Mr. Z," should be sent back to Belgium where he was arrested, or to France where his wife lives.
"I am extremely happy with the judgment, but the damage done must be reimbursed by the prosecution for the 8½ years spent in detention by Mr. Zigiranyirazo," Philpot said. According to the indictment, Zigiranyirazo was accused of leading a convoy that attacked Tutsis who were seeking refuge on a hill a few days after the genocide began. About 1,000 people were killed and the convoy later returned to attack survivors, the indictment said. Zigiranyirazo also was accused of ordering people to set up roadblocks as part of a campaign to kill Tutsis and of paying people to dig a mass grave.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, set up by the U.N. to try key suspects of the genocide, has convicted 39 people and acquitted seven. Trials are under way for 11 others, and 11 most-wanted fugitives are still on the run. The 1994 genocide began after Habyarimana’s plane was brought down by unknown assailants as it was approaching the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamira also was killed. Both were returning from a regional peace meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The killings spread across the country and lasted 100 days, until a Tutsi, Paul Kagame, led his rebel army to overthrow the Hutu government. Kagame is now Rwanda’s president.
Close associate Habyarimana regime sentenced to 8 years prison
(pleaded guilty to complicity in genocide)
RadioNetherlandNews, Nov 11, 2009
...In 1994, Michel Bagaragaza was the head of OCIR-Thé, a lucrative parastatal controlling Rwanda’s national tea production. He was from the same region as then president, Juvénal Habyarimana, and described himself as a member of the “large akazu”, a name given to the group of people who were actually running Rwanda at the time. At the centre of the akazu were Habyarimana’s wife and her three brothers, including Protais Zigiranyirazo, also know as “Z”. It was because of Bagaragaza’s relationship with Z and other powerful members of the regime that he caught the interest of the Office of the Prosecutor. Bagaragaza said he knew who gave the order to kill several prominent members of the opposition in the early hours of April 7th, 1994. These murders were the first act of the mass killing campaign that engulfed Rwanda over the following three months and it has never been clear who ordered them. The information was so sensitive that it took two and a half years for Bagaragaza to reveal it to the prosecutor. Bagaragaza claimed that his good friend Pasteur Musabe, a powerful businessman close to Habyarimana’s family, was called by Z early in the morning on April 7th and asked to come to the presidential residence with money. There, Musabe said, Z ordered the presidential guard to go and kill the leaders of the opposition. When Musabe first told Bagaragaza about what he saw and heard on that day, another person was present, Juvénal Uwilingiyimana. In February 1999, Musabe was murdered in Cameroon. In November 2005, Uwilingiyimana was also found dead in a canal in Belgium, where he’d been meeting with the ICTR Prosecutor. Bagaragaza twice testified in Arusha against the once feared “Mister Z”. But the judges did not accept his evidence as it was deemed hearsay and nobody could corroborate it. From a legal point of view, the matter was clear. From a historical point of view, however, Bagaragaza’s allegation could possibly shed light on how events unfolded.
KABILA-CHINA-GORILLAS-NKUNDA (...That's why I was absolutely shocked when I read - not that long ago - that the same Hutus who masterminded the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda were the ones who killed Dian Fossey and that the brother of Habyarimana's wife - Mr Zed - was behind it: "Protais Zigiranyirazo (born 1938) commonly known as Monsieur Zed ("Mr. Z"), is a Rwandan businessman and politician. He is the former governor of Ruhengeri prefecture in northwestern Rwanda. He has also been accused of collaborating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the 1985 murder of Dian Fossey. "Between 1974 and 1989 Zigiranyirazo served as governor of Ruhengeri. An ethnic Hutu, he was well-connected to the Hutu establishment of politicians, businessmen and military officers which then controlled Rwanda: he is the brother of Agathe Kanziga, wife of the late Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose assassination on April 6, 1994 precipitated the events leading to the genocide. "In 1989 he resigned his position as prefect to study at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was expelled from UQÁM and from Canada in 1993 after being convicted of uttering death threats against two Tutsi refugees in Montreal, who "accused him of participating in the planning of ethnic massacres."...So, in murdering gorillas in the Congo now, the Rwandan Hutu genocidaires in exile - the FAR/FDLR - are up to their usual modus-operandi and must be stopped....)
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~