Emmanuel Rukundo was born on 1 December 1959 in Kabgayi, in the Gitamara Prefecture, Rwanda. After having studied at the Nyakibanda seminary, Rukundo was ordained a priest in July 1991. He was put in charge of a parish to the north of Kabgayi. Subsequently, he was appointed army Chaplain, a position he occupied throughout the year 1994.
In April 1994, Rukundo has participated, with military and Interhamwe (member of the extremist Hutu militia), to the kidnapping of Tutsis who sought refuge at the “Petit séminaire Saint Léon”, in Gitarama (center of Rwanda). Several of these Tutsis were then killed.
On 21 May 1994, Rukundo would have attempted to rape a Tutsie woman in chamber of the “Petit séminaire Saint Léon”.
Rukundo reportedly adopted an extremist position on the side of the Hutus and became committed to taking action against the Tutsis. He was said to have been responsible for the murder of a great number of Tutsis. He was also considered to have betrayed a great number of Tutsis during the troubles in Rwanda by forwarding to the army and the authorities, lists with their names and addresses. Many Tutsis were killed as a result of this. Accompanied by soldiers, he reportedly went out looking for Tutsis who were fleeing in order to kill them. He is said to have made the following statement: “The Tutsis are a race which should be wiped out. We must fight them with all the means at our disposal”.
After the Rwandan genocide, he left the country and asked for asylum in Switzerland. From 1999 he fulfilled the office of curate in St. Paul’s parish, Geneva.
On 11 July 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) requested the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs to arrest Rukundo and to transfer him to the Tribunal. The ICTR indictment accused Rukundo of counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The following day Rukundo was arrested in Geneva.