Arsène Shalom Ntahobali was born in 1970 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is the son of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko (Minister for the Family and Women’s Affairs) and Maurice Ntahobali (former President of the Rwandan National Assembly, Minister for Higher Education and Rector of the National University of Butare). At the time of the alleged events, he was a student at the Rwandan National University in Butare. He was also the leader of a unit of the Interahamwe (Hutu extremist militiamen). In this position, he exercised authority and control over the Interahamwe in the Butare prefecture.
From the end of 1990 until July 1994, Ntahobali was said to have adhered to, and participated in the detailed development of a plan aimed at exterminating the Tutsi. Amongst other elements, this plan included recourse to hatred and ethnic violence, the training and distribution of arms to militias as well as the drafting of lists of people to be eliminated. In the accomplishment of this plan, he was accused of having planned, ordered and participated in the massacres.
Between April and July 1994, a roadblock was set up nearby the Ntahobali’s home in Butare. The latter, together with his mother, mounted the guard over this roadblock. During this entire period, with military help, this roadblock was used as a means to identify, abduct and murder Tutsi.
Between 19 April and end of June 1994, Ntahobali and his mother, accompanied by the Interahamwe and the military, reportedly went to the offices of the prefecture on several occasions to pick up Tutsi. Those who tried to resist were assaulted and in some instances killed on the spot. As for the others, they were taken away to different places in the prefecture, and in particular to the forest close to the Rwandan Evangelical School, where they were executed. Just before they were transported away, the victims were often forced by Ntahobali and his mother to take off their clothes completely before being forced into the vehicles.
From April to July 1994, Ntahobali allegedly roamed throughout the Butare prefecture to hunt for Tutsis. As soon as the victims had been located, he was said to have forcibly taken them to various different sites where they were executed.
During April and May 1994, Ntahobali, Joseph Kanyabashi (Mayor of the commune of Ngoma) and André Rwamakuba (Minister for National Education in the Interim Government), together with soldiers and Interahamwe militia under their control, allegedly went to the University Hospital of Butare where they selected, abducted and murdered Tutsis who had gone there to find refuge and receive medical aid. Around 25 April 1994, Ntahobali was reported to have raped a Tutsi woman at the University Hospital of Butare.
In mid-June 1994, Ntahobali and Alphonse Nteziryayo (Military Police Commander and newly appointed Préfet of Butare) were said to have tried to prevent the evacuation from Butare of around 300 orphans and the adults accompanying them. Ignoring the protests of the employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the local authorities, they were reported to have selected around 40 adults who were forced to remain in Rwanda.
Furthermore, in addition to the cruel treatment meted out to members of the Tutsi population during this period, Ntahobali, together with a number of accomplices, was accused of having participated in the abduction and rape of Tutsi women.
In July 1994, in the face of the advancing FPR (Front Patriotique Rwandais, an opposition group consisting mainly of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Ntahobali fled Rwanda in the direction of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). After going into hiding in a refugee camp in the DRC, he finally made his way to Kenya, where he lived as a fugitive for almost three years. On 24 July 1997, he was arrested in a grocery store which he managed in Nairobi, Kenya, and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).