Alfred Musema was born on 22 August 1949, in the administrative district of Byumba in Rwanda. In 1968 he entered the Faculty of Agronomy at the State University of Gembloux, in Belgium, where he obtained his diploma in 1974.Following this, Musema then embarked on a career in the Ministry of Agriculture in Rwanda.
In 1984, by presidential decree, he was appointed Director of the state-owned tea factory in Gisovu in the district of Kibuye. In this position, he exercised de facto authority and de jure control over his employees at the tea factory. As such, he had the legal authority to prevent the use of vehicles, uniforms or other possessions of the factory in carrying out the subsequent massacres, or to sanction anyone using them for this purpose. In addition, Musema was a member of the “Prefectural Council” of Byumba and the “Technical Committee” of Butare commune. As a member of both organisations, he was expected to deal with socio-economic questions and problems of development.
Musema was said to have played a decisive role in the extermination of Tutsi refugees who in 1994 fled to the hilly region of Bisesero in the district of Kibuye. The massacres in that region went on continuously during the months between April and June 1994, and caused tens of thousands of deaths.
On 26 April 1994, Musema reportedly directed and participated in an attack on the hillside at Gitwa. He was said to have arrived there on board one of the tea factory’s vehicles, to have participated in a large-scale attack against the Tutsis who had taken refuge there and to have fired shots into the crowd of refugees. He was accompanied by employees of the Gisovu tea factory.
Another attack against Tutsis was launched between 27 April and 3 May 1994 on the Rwirambo hill. Musema, armed with a rifle, together with other assailants and members of the Interahamwe (an extremist Hutu militia) arrived at the scene in vehicles, four of which belonged to the tea factory.
In mid-May 1994, several attacks, in which Musema reportedly took part, were launched against Tutsi refugees in the region of Bisesero:
-For example, on 13 and 14 May, and on another date which remains uncertain, three attacks against more than 40’000 Tutsi refugees on the Muyira hill were undertaken. Amongst the leaders was said to be Musema, who was at the forefront of the attackers from Gisovu. The assailants, some of whom were uniformed employees of the tea factory, arrived in a convoy of vehicles belonging to the tea factory. Musema was armed with a rifle, which he was reported to have used in the attack. Tens of thousands of Tutsis lost their lives in this attack; only 10’000 survived.
-Also in mid-May 1994, Musema was reported to have participated in an attack on the Mutaba hill, in which he was accompanied by employees of the tea factory. The factory’s vehicles were used to transport the assailants to the scene of the attack. Musema was said to have stayed at the scene during the whole attack and afterwards to have left with the other attackers.
At the end of May 1994, Musema was alleged to have taken part in an attack at the Nyakavumu cave. He was reported to be part of a convoy which included vehicles belonging to the tea factory, and which served to transport factory workers to the cave. During the attack Musema was said to have ordered the assailants to barricade the cave’s entry with wood and to set it on fire. More than 300 civilian Tutsis who had fled into the cave lost their lives.
In July 1994, confronted with the approach of the FPR (Front Patriotique Rwandais,or Rwanda Patriotic Front, an opposition movement made up mostly of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Musema fled Rwanda. Together with his family he arrived in Switzerland at the end of 1994, and applied for asylum. Over time, he was recognized and denounced by an organisation for the defence of victims of the Rwandan genocide On 9 February 1995, the Swiss military judiciary ordered the opening of an inquiry with respect to Alfred Musema. On 11 February 1995, he was arrested in a home for asylum seekers in Lausanne.