Elizaphan Ntakirutimana was born in 1924 in Ngoma, Rwanda. He was a senior pastor of the Church of the Seventh Day Adventists in the Mugonero Complex in Ngoma.
Between April and June 1994, he allegedly instigated and took part in murders of Tutsi civilians in the Mugonero and Bisesero regions.
Notably on 16 April 1994, he reportedly conveyed to the Mugonero Adventist Complex a group of armed men and ordered the removal of the church roof so that it could no longer be used as a shelter by Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge inside. In so doing, he allegedly facilitated the hunting down, the killing and the infliction of serious bodily and mental harm to a large number of men, women and children, in great majority Tutsis.
In the same period of 1994, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana allegedly participated in several vehicle convoys carrying attackers to various locations in the Bisesero region, facilitating massacres of civilians.
Elizaphan Ntakirutimana was arrested for the first time on 29 September 1996 in Texas (USA), subsequently freed, then arrested again on 26 February 1998 and transferred to the prison quarters of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on 24 March 2000.
He was charged before the ICTR with genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (through murder, extermination and other inhumane acts) and serious breaches of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II thereto. Two initially separate indictments were joined to encompass events relating to both the massacre of the Mugonero complex and the attacks in the Bisesero region.
The trial against Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gérard Ntakirutimana, indicted for the commission of the same crimes, began on 18 September 2001. On 31 March 2000, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The verdict of the First Trial Chamber was rendered on 21 February 2003. Ntakirutimana was unanimously found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide for events related to the Mugonero and the Bisesero massacres. He was acquitted of the other charges. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Time already served in custody in the USA and in Arusha was credited towards his sentence.