by Tichaona Chifamba
HARARE, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has denied reports that it had been harboring fugitive Rwandan genocide perpetrator Protais Mpiranya, whose alleged remains were found buried at a grave south of Harare in April.
Some reports claim that Mpiranya, one of the world's most wanted genocide fugitives, died about 10 years ago and was buried at Granville Cemetery under a false name.
He was a former commander of the presidential guard of the Rwandan army and had been on the run for 27 years after the United Nations charged him with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
An estimated 800,000 people died during the genocide.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava said in a statement issued Sunday that the Zimbabwean government met all its obligations under international law when it dealt with the matter.
"Zimbabwe fully cooperated with the UN Residual Mechanism in its investigations of the Rwandese fugitive who was indicted in 2000 by the International Tribunal for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
"From Day One, Zimbabwe cooperated fully with the investigation team. Actually, the office of the UN prosecutor responsible for tracking Rwandan fugitives and the Zimbabwean authorities established a joint task force to coordinate investigative activities and strengthen cooperation," Shava said.
He added that Zimbabwean authorities had consistently cooperated and adhered to the country's international legal obligations.
Among other activities, the government had set up an Inter-Departmental Taskforce with the mandate to investigate, chaired by the foreign affairs ministry and worked with the representative of the office of the UN prosecutor, Shava said.
It also provided resources to fund the investigations of the activities of the task force and comprehensively investigated leads on Mpiranya and also followed up on new leads, he said.
The government had also facilitated a visit to Zimbabwe by the UN prosecutor and his meetings with the country's two vice presidents, shared stage-by-stage investigation reports, summaries of interviews with suspects and documentary evidence from various sources, Shava added.
"Furthermore, it was the Government of Zimbabwe that authorized and participated in the exhumation of Mpiranya's remains when it was suspected that he was the one buried under a false name, Ndume Sambao.
"The government actually secured the grave, issued certificates to authorize the extraction of DNA samples and for them to be taken outside the country to the Netherlands Forensic Institute for analysis," Shava said.
He said the government was not only cooperating and assisting the UN Mechanism, but was also assisting Rwanda bilaterally and requests for extradition of some fugitives allegedly believed to be in Zimbabwe were at various stages of processing.
"Contrary to smear campaigns peddled by both international mainstream media and social media seeking to portray Zimbabwe as aiding, abetting and aiding a fugitive, the Government of Zimbabwe actually assisted the UN prosecutor in the identification of Mpiranya," Shava said.