Edouard Karemera, alias Rukusanya, was born in 1951 in the commune of Mwendo in the prefecture of Kibuye, Rwanda. Lawyer by education, he was Minister of Institutional Relations in the government of May 1987. On 25 May 1994, he was appointed to the position of Interior Minister in the Interim Government. He held this post until mid-July 1994.
In this capacity, he had the responsibility to ensure the security of people and property throughout the entire territory of Rwanda. He wielded de jure authority and de facto control over the departmental prefects the vice prefects and the burgomasters and he had direct hierarchical authority over all the civil servants throughout the territory of Rwanda. Moreover, from July 1993, Karemera was Vice-President of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND, its French acronym) the party of the President) as well as being a member of its Cabinet. As such, he had effective control over the members of the youth wing of his party, the Interahamwe (the extremist Hutu militia). He also exercised authority and control over government officials in those prefectures and communes controlled by the MRND, as well as over the regional and national leaders of the “civil defence programme”.
According to a report published by the NGO, African Rights, based in London, Karemera was alleged to have been one of the proponents of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
For a period of several years, but mainly from end 1992 until July 1994, Karemera was said to have acceded to, executed and participated in the elaboration of a plan which was aimed at the extermination of the Tutsis. This plan consisted of, among other elements, having resort to hatred and ethnic violence, the training of and distribution of arms to militiamen, and the preparation of lists of those persons who were to be eliminated. In the execution phase of this plan, he was accused of having organised directed and participated in the massacres.
During the years 1993 and 1994, Karemera and others, were accused of taking measures in order to set up and extend their personal control, and that of the MRND Cabinet, over an organised militia group which would then respond favourably to their summons to kill the Tutsis.
During 1993 and 1994, Karemera was alleged to have been a frequent participant in MRND meetings, during which the Tutsis were characterised as “enemies”. On or around 27 October 1993, Karemera and others, were alleged to have participated in a mass meeting of thousands of people in the Umuganda stadium in Gisenyi. Karemera was said to have addressed the crowd and to have exhorted it to fight against the “enemy” Again, between April and June 1994, at various public gatherings, Karemera was reported to have made statements characterising the Tutsis as “enemies” to do battle with. Towards 3 May 1994, Karemera was said to have taken part in a meeting of the Kibuye communal committee during which he was reported to have called on the Interahamwe to “fight the enemy”. In Kibuye, massacres of the Tutsis increased after 3 May 1994.
From April to July 1994, by virtue of their official function, and by their speeches, their orders and directives, in addition to their actions and omissions, the members of the interim government, including Karemera, were accused of exerting control over the local authorities and the Interahamwe .These authorities and militiamen with the complicity of the military and with full knowledge of the Interim Government, of which Karemera was a member, committed mass killings of the Tutsis, from 6 April 1994 onwards, throughout the whole territory of Rwanda.
Between 8 April and 14 July 1994, in several prefectures such as Butare, Kibuye, Kigali, Gitarama and Gisenyi, ministers, prefects, burgomasters, government officials and the military, ordered, aided and incited to the commission of and personally committed, massacres against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Karemera was in a position to know or ought to have known, that his subordinates had committed, or were about to commit such crimes and was said to have failed in preventing the crimes and in punishing the offenders. He was therefore accused of failing in his duty to ensure the security of the Rwandan population.
Between 11 and 14 July Karemera and other ministers were reported to have made official visits to several prefectures throughout the country, such as Butare, Kibuye and Gitarama, in order to supervise the implementation of the Government’s instructions, directives and guidance, especially in the areas of civil defence and national security. During their numerous trips, they were in a position to know, or should have known, that massacres of the civilian Tutsi population were underway. However, at no point in time did they take action to put a stop to these massacres or to punish those responsible.
Furthermore, between 24 April and 14 July 1994, Karemera and other ministers were said to have gone to several prefectures, such as Butare, Gitarama, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu, in order to incite and goad the population into committing these massacres, notably by offering congratulations to the would be perpetrators.
About 18 April 1994, Karemera and others were said to have participated in a meeting at the Murambi school, during which the prefect and several burgomasters of the Gitarama prefecture were said to have asked the prime minister Jean Kambanda (see “related cases”) to send reinforcements in order to protect the Tutsi population from being massacred and to re-establish order in the region. But, to the contrary, several ministers and important political figures, were reported to have applied pressure on the Gitarama delegation to put an end to their protection of the Tutsis and to allow the Interahamwe militiamen to start the killings.
Towards the end of April 1994, Karemera was said to have gone to Mwendo in the commune from where he originated. He was reported to have made an address to the local administrative authorities and to the population which had assembled to welcome him urging them to go out and help with the commission of massacres in the region of Bisesero in the prefecture of Kibuye. Towards 17 June 1994, at a ministerial meeting, the Interim Government was said to have taken a decision to ask the Commander in Gisenyi for more reinforcements in order to commit further massacres of the surviving Tutsis who had taken refuge in the hills of Bisesero. Karemera in his capacity of Interior Minister was said to have attended this meeting and to have drafted in writing the following day the formal request to the Commander in Gisenyi. As a consequence, the slaughter of the Tutsis was further intensified, thanks to these reinforcements from Gisenyi.
On separate occasions during the month of June 1994, Karemera and others were said to have participated in meetings with influential businessmen close to the MRND. The aim of these meetings was to raise funds to purchase arms for distribution to the Interahamwe and to the soldiers of the regular army.
In mid-July, being confronted with the advance of the troops of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Karemera fled Rwanda. On 5 June 1998, he was arrested at his residence in Lomé, Togo.