Protais Zigiranyirazo

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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 6 April 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 (UQAM) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was expelled from UQAM 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." [1]

Genocide allegations[edit]

Zigiranyirazo returned to Rwanda following his expulsion from Canada. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has accused him of committing several crimes during the months of the genocide in 1994. Specifically, ICTR alleges that Zigiranyirazo "ordered or authorized roadblocks to be established in direct proximity to each of his three residences ... knowing and intending that they would be used in the campaign of extermination and killing."

Further "Protais Zigiranyirazo further instructed men at the roadblock to kill all Tutsi that attempted to pass through. Shortly thereafter, and on a continuing basis, soldiers and Interahamwe killed a number of people in their homes and killed people identified as Tutsi that attempted to pass through the roadblock."

Arrest and court appearances[edit]

From sometime after 1994 until July 2001 Zigiranyirazo resided in Nairobi, Kenya. On 21 July 2001 he was arrested in a Brussels airport while travelling with a fake French passport and seeking asylum in Belgium. On 4 October 2001 the Belgian government handed him over to the ICTR.

On his initial appearance before the court in October 2001 he was charged with two counts of crimes against humanity. The indictment against him was, however, amended pending his second appearance on 25 November 2003. The amended indictment accuses him of committing genocide against Tutsis between April and July 1994 in Kigali and Gisenyi. Trial Chamber III composed of Judges Inés Mónica Weinberg de Roca, Khalida Rachid Khan and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga, on Thursday 18 December 2008, convicted Protais Zigiranyirazo of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment. Credit was given to him for time spent in prison. The verdict was overturned by the Appeal chamber of the ICTR who acquitted him of all charges on 16 November 2009, ordering the immediate release of Mr Zigiranyirazo and citing that the court has made serious errors in the initial judgement. [2]

Zigiranyirazo's acquittal, which was partly based on the fact that he was not found to have engaged in "genocide planning," has been criticized for giving credence to denial that the Rwandan genocide was planned by its perpetrators.He is living in Abidjan, the Capital city of Ivory Coast.[3]


  1. ^ Picard, André (13 July 1994). "Rwandan leader lived in splendour". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-04-17.  Archived 19 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Release of Rwanda's mastermind of death promotes genocide denial, Harvard Law Record, 4 December 2009

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