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Rwandan Accused of ‘Vicious’ Genocide Slaughter Arrested in Ohio

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

A Rwandan medical student identified as one of the “most vicious” perpetrators of the nation’s 1994 genocide was arrested Thursday morning in Uniontown, Ohio, where he had been posing for the past three decades as a victim of the very atrocities he is accused of carrying out, the feds said.

Eric Tabaro Nshimiye, 52, joined the brutal Interahamwe militia while studying medicine as an undergrad at the University of Butare in the early 1990s, according to a federal complaint charging him with perjury, obstruction of justice, and scheme to conceal. One fellow militia member told U.S. investigators that Nshimiye, a member of the Hutu ethnic majority, used “a machete and spiked club to murder [a] 14-year-old Tutsi boy a short while after Nshimiye and others had killed his mother,” the complaint states.

“Witness 1 recounted another instance in which Nshimiye was with a group of Interahamwe who rounded up 25-30 Tutsis who had been hiding in the forest near the University,” the complaint continues. “The group, including Nshimiye and others, killed all of the captured Tutsis and then burned their bodies in the forest.”

Another fellow perpetrator recounted an instance in which Nshimiye “instructed other members of the Interahamwe to rape and then kill six young women who were University students,” according to the complaint, which says Nshimiye personally executed one of the victims “by striking her in the head with a nail-studded club, and then hacking her to death.”

“Witness 2 also recounted an incident in which he saw Nshimiye capture a Tutsi tailor who made coats for doctors at the [Butare University] Hospital,” the complaint goes on. “Nshimiye and others took the tailor away. According to Witness 2, Nshimiye returned not long after, bragging that he had killed the tailor. Nshimiye was carrying a blood soaked nail-spiked club.”

A snippet from the criminal complaint against Eric Tabaro Nshimiye.
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

The complaint says a survivor of the genocide independently confirmed seeing Nshimiye “beat and hack the tailor to death in a field adjacent to the Hospital entrance.” Another survivor told authorities she had been “raped repeatedly by Nshimiye,” and that she escaped from his clutches “when he was taking her and two young children to one of the killing pits to be hacked to death. The children did not survive.”

Reached by phone on Thursday afternoon, Nshimiye’s wife confirmed his arrest to The Daily Beast but declined to comment further. Nshimiye has worked as an electrical engineer since arriving in the U.S., according to public records. He does not yet have an attorney listed in court filings.

Many Tutsis sought refuge at the university hospital in Butare, the second-largest city in Rwanda, according to the complaint. Because of this, the hospital turned into a killing field for Hutu genocidaires, with Tutsi patients, nurses, staff, and others fleeing the violence being beaten or hacked to death, the complaint states.

“Among other things, Nshimiye assisted in the identification of Tutsis among hospital patients and personnel; he searched for, and exposed, Tutsis sheltering at the hospital and other locations at the University and in Butare; and he assisted in the forcible removal of Tutsis from the hospital grounds, from locations at the University, and from other locations in Butare,” the complaint alleges.

It says Nshimiye guarded several roadblocks in Butare, where he “assisted in the identification and killing of Tutsis.”

A snippet from the criminal complaint against Eric Tabaro Nshimiye.
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

“During much of this time, Nshimiye was armed with a wooden club spiked with nails and a machete,” the complaint states. “At times, he was also armed with a hatchet and grenades… Both persons who participated in the genocide as perpetrators, and survivors of the genocide, recently identified Nshimiye as among the most vicious University students who were members of the Interahamwe during the genocide.”

Nshimiye fled Rwanda in 1994, making his way to Kenya, according to the complaint. The following year, Nshimiye applied for refugee status, claiming on U.S. immigration forms that he and his family had been threatened by the Interahamwe, which Nshimiye falsely claimed had murdered his father, the feds say. In May 1995, Nshimiye sat for an interview with a U.S. immigration official at the American Embassy in Nairobi, where, the complaint alleges, he “falsely swore that he had never committed a crime involving moral turpitude,” and that he had “never ordered, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion or political opinion.”

Nshimiye was granted admission to the U.S. on Dec. 1, 1995. He arrived in New York, then “took up residence in Ohio,” according to the complaint. On Sept. 11, 2001, Nshimiye applied for citizenship, again erasing his bloody past, the complaint says, adding that he was sworn in as an American on April 18, 2003. In the years to follow, Nshimiye lived a quiet Midwestern life, at one point allegedly testifying on behalf of another Hutu charged with lying on immigration forms, once again perjuring himself in the process, according to the complaint.

A snippet from the criminal complaint against Eric Tabaro Nshimiye.
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

More than 30 years passed before the alleged violence in Nshimiye’s past would finally catch up with him.

On March 11, 2024, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) met with Nshimiye at his workplace in Akron, and asked him “a number of questions” about his activities and affiliations during the Rwandan genocide. Nshimiye “persisted in concealing” the truth, claiming to have left the country prior to the bloodshed.

“When ultimately asked if he had been involved in raping or killing anyone during the genocide, Nshimiye first responded by shaking his head, laughing nervously, and asking for a drink of water,” the complaint states. “When I persisted by asking again, he falsely denied any involvement in raping or killing anyone during the genocide.”

If convicted, Nshimiye faces up to five years in prison on the perjury charge, up to 10 years on the obstruction of justice charge, and up to five years on the scheme to conceal charge.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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