Jean-Paul Akayesu was born in 1955. Before his election as mayor of Taba, he was first a teacher, then education inspector. He started his political career in the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR; Democratic Republican Movement) in 1991 and soon became President of the local section of the MDR in Taba. He occupied the post of mayor from April 1993 until June 1994, when he fled from Rwanda. He is married with five children.
Akayesu’s criminal responsibility was based on both his direct and indirect participation in the 1994 genocide.
His actions in Taba amounted to direct participation in the crime of genocide. During the genocide, numerous Tutsi sought refuge in the Taba communal offices, where they were beaten and killed instead of being protected.. It is estimated that 2000 people were killed in the 1994 massacres against the Tutsi in the community of Taba alone. In addition to this, numerous Tutsi women were submitted to sexual violence by the troops. They were mutilated and raped, often by more than one attacker and in public. The rapes against Tutsi women were of a systematic nature. Police officers armed with guns, as well as Jean-Paul Akayesu himself, were reportedly present at some of these acts. Akayesu was also suspected of having ordered upseveral murders and to have participated in carrying them out.
Jean-Paul Akayesu was further accused of aiding and abetting numerous criminal acts through his presence, his attitude and his statements. He encouraged criminal acts and gave out orders for people to be killed. On 19 April 1994 – for example – he chaired a public reunion in Taba, in the course of which he called for the people to unite to eliminate the « Tutsi enemy ».
Jean-Paul Akayesu was arrested on 10 October 1995 in Lusaka, Zambia and transferred to the UN penitentiary quarter in Arusha, Tanzania, on 15 May 1996.