Innocent Sagahutu is thought to have been born on 30 May 1962 in the Gisuma commune of Cyangugu prefecture, Rwanda. However, his official date of birth is not known. During the events set out in the indictment, he was Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army with responsibility for Company A of the same Battalion. He held the rank of Captain. He occupied this post until July 1994. In this capacity, he had authority over all of the units of this battalion.
Based on the indictment, from late 1990 until July 1994, Sagahutu conspired with others to work out a plan with intent to exterminate the civilian Tutsi population and eliminate members of the opposition. The components of this plan consisted of, amongst other things, recourse to hatred and ethnic violence, the training of and distribution of weapons to militiamen as well as the preparation of lists of people to be eliminated. In executing the plan, he was said to have organised, ordered and participated in the massacres. He also reportedly distributed arms to the militias and to certain members of the civilian population with the intention of exterminating the Tutsi.
UNAMAR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda) was perceived by certain Hutu extremists as an obstacle to their extermination plans. They therefore adopted a strategy aimed at provoking the Belgian military which had the most efficient and well equipped contingent in UNAMAR. Over time their objective was to force them to leave the country.
During the night of 6 April 1994, Belgian soldiers received the order to go to the home of the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyamana, in order to escort her to the National Radio where she was scheduled to make a speech. On arrival at her residence around 5 am, they were attacked by soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) amongst which were elements of the Presidential Guard, of the Para Commando Battalion and squadron A of the Reconnaissance Battalion led by Sagahutu. Sagahutu was said to have ordered the soldiers, who were based at the residence of the President of the Republic in Kiyovu, to prevent the Prime Minister from leaving her home. Sagahutu reportedly gave the order to use tanks and to open fire on the Belgian soldiers if they opposed the arrest of the Prime Minister. Following this, the 10 Belgian Para Commandos were disarmed and held prisoner together with five Ghanaian soldiers who were responsible for ensuring the safety of the Prime Minister. Despite having negotiated their surrender with a promise to be taken to a UNAMAR base, the Belgian and Ghanaian soldiers were taken to a camp in Kigali where they were attacked and beaten by Rwandan soldiers. Whereas the Ghanaian soldiers were set free, four of the Belgian soldiers were put to death on the spot. The six other Belgian soldiers held out against several attacks for a period of a few hours before finally being killed.
On 13 April 1994, in consideration of the death of 10 of its soldiers, Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent from Rwanda.
During the morning of 7 April 1994, the Prime Minister, Madame Agathe Uwilingiyimana was tracked down, arrested, sexually assaulted and then killed by elements of the Rwandan Army, more particularly of the Presidential Guard which was commanded by Major Protais Mpiranya (see “related cases”) of the Para Commando Battalion and by Squadron A of the Reconnaissance Battalion commanded by Sagahutu. Concurrently with this murder, members of these same units confined and killed important opposition leaders and prominent figures in the Tutsi community.
From April to July 1994, by virtue of their positions, their statements, the orders they issued and their actions, Captain Sagahutu, as well as General Augustin Bizimungu, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Major Protais Mpiranya, and Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye (see “related cases”), exercised authority over members of the Rwandan Armed Forces, their officers and militiamen. From 6 April 1994, these soldiers, gendarmes and militiamen, perpetrated massacres against the Tutsi population and the moderate Hutu and committed other crimes such as rape and sexual assault in addition to other crimes of a sexual nature, which were widespread throughout the entire territory of Rwanda and had the full knowledge of Sagahutu, Bizimungu, Ndindiliyimana, Mpiranya, and Nzuwonemeye.
From April to July 1994, in all regions of the country, members of the Tutsi population who were fleeing from the massacres taking place on their hillsides, sought refuge in locations they believed would be safe, often on the recommendation of the local civil and military authorities. In many of these places, despite the promise that they would be protected by the local civil and military authorities, the refugees were attacked, abducted and massacred by soldiers, gendarmes and militiamen often on the orders, or with the connivance, of those same authorities. Furthermore, in many of those locations, soldiers and militiamen abducted, killed and raped or sexually assaulted Tutsi women. Innocent Sagahutu, in his capacity as Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance Battalion of the Rwandan Army and responsible for Company A of the same Battalion, knew, or had reasons to know, that his subordinates were about to commit or had already committed such crimes and did nothing to prevent these crimes or punish the perpetrators.
Knowing that massacres of the civilian population were being committed, the political and military authorities, one of which being Sagahutu, took no initiatives or measures to stop them. On the contrary, they refused to intervene to control and appeal to the population as long as a cease fire had not been signed.
In July 1994, faced with the advance of the troops of the FPR (Rwandan Patriotic Front, an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Sagahutu fled Rwanda. On 15 February 2000, he was arrested in Skejern, Denmark where he had been granted the status of political refugee.