Hurst Road, Ashford, Kent.
Celestin Mutabaruka was born in January 1956 in Ruganda village, Mwendo commune, in the western prefecture of Kibuye [now Karongi district, Ruganda sector, Kivumu cell, Birambo village].
His parents – Appolinaire Sengabo and Damarse Mukarubona, from Mwendo commune, were peasant farmers. He studied at Olmotonyi Forest Training College (Institute) near Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania, and later from 1985-90 at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.
In 1978-9, the young Mutabaruka, still only 22 years old, was made Director of the Kibuye Pilot Forestry Project (PPF) in Gisovu, near the northern shore of Lake Kivu and the Nyungwe forest. This was a re-forestation initiative set up in 1967 with funding from one of President Habyarimana’s close European partner’s, Switzerland.
In the 1980s Mutabaruka was Director of the ISUMO Pilot Forestry project. He enjoyed the support of the top leadership of the regime; to obtain the educational possibilities at foreign colleges and work positions he did in the late 1970s and 80s could only have been done with the personal support of President Habyarimana and his clique who vetted and approved all applications for travel and such lucrative and powerful posts.
In January 1992 Mutabaruka took over the running of the forest management project Crête-Zaire-Nil (CZN) where his wife Rose was already working. This development project was funded by the European Fund for Development (FED) and under the direction of the Rwandan regime’s ministry of Agriculture. It was located in the remote, mountainous, north-west region of Musebeya, that bordered the Nyungwe forest. By June that year Mutabaruka is alleged to have brought in ethnic segregation and by June 1992 was persecuting and discriminating against Tutsis. CZN, an International Development Aid project had close links to MRND and Akazu – the mafia-like group around the president’s family which had effectively established a parallel control over all areas of the country. According to Human Rights Watch, though ‘supposedly intended to increase agricultural production for local residents, the foreign-funded project had been turned to other ends by powerful actors, including high-ranking soldiers linked to Habyarimana. In a region where fertile land was scarce, CZN had been allowed to displace cultivators from plots they had farmed and improved for years. In addition, the project had transformed lightly wooded areas on the edge of the forest into pasturage for the cattle of the wealthy rather than into arable plots for the hungry. Foreign funding for CZN was suspended during 1993. In August, CZN workers went on strike. At this point a detachment of National Police were sent to Gatare, where they still were in April 1994’. In November or December 1993 there was an attempt to remove Mutabaruka from his post when he was to be replaced by a Tutsi. He refused to go and claimed that his removal was a political issue between two political parties, the MRND and more moderate PSD, who were bitterly contesting control of the region. There is documentary evidence which confirms Mutabaruka writing to President Habyarimana saying he had set up a political party and asking the president to intervene to stop his removal from CZN.
On 20 October 1993 Mutabaruka set up his own small political party – the Union of Christian Social Democrats (UNISODEC). It had 50 members. He described himself as the President of UNISODEC in a letter dated 4 January 1994. The party was allied to MRND – the ruling party of the president, Juvenal Habyarimana. Mutabaruka was said to continue to enjoy the support of at the highest levels of MRND and the regime and his political party could be used as an effective tool in the region to promote his own personal influence while also remaining within the orbit of Habyarimana/Akazu.
Mutabaruka was a close friend of Aloys Ndimbati, the bourgmeister (Mayor) of Gisovu commune in Kibuye from 1990-94. Ndimbati, who fled Rwandan for Zaire (DRC) after the genocide ended in July 1994, was accused of personally organising and directing massacres and killings of thousands of Tutsis at locations including Bisesero hill, Kidashya hill, Muyira hill, Nyakavumu cave, Gitwe hill, Rwirambo hill, Byiniro hill and Kazirandimwe hill. Around June 1997 he returned to Rwanda via the UNHCR despite being indicted by the UNICTR for the above crimes. In November 2023 the UN Mechanism confirmed that investigations showed he had died soon after his return to Rwanda in June 1997.
Allegations of complicity in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi:
During the genocide Mutabaruka was said to have played an important role, along with his close friend and colleague Jonas Kanyarutoki, in the killings which took place at Gatare when people who had taken shelter in the Catholic parish were persuaded to leave and then brutally killed on 17 April 1994. He was an organiser and is mentioned by a number of those involved. Once the killing had finished, he checked on where the bodies had been dumped.
In mid-May 1994, Mutabaruka was said to have led a gang of killers that murdered many people on Muyira hill in Bisesero – a mountainous area in western Rwanda where a group of Tutsi had taken to the hills in an attempt to escape the genocidal killers. Using vehicles from his forest management company CZN, Mutabaruka led Interahamwe militia and fired into the crowd killing one person through the eye. He returned the following day and finished off any survivors. He was said to be one of the leaders who would stand with the Interahamwe and give them briefings. About 40,000 Tutsis are said to have died in these attacks.
A witness who replaced Mutabaruka as director of CZN found several of his documents in his former office. Various letters are exhibits including Mutabaruka asking the President, Prime Minister and Commanding Officer of the Gikongoro gendarmerie for a firearm, another a letter from a CZN employee complaining that he had sacked a number of Tutsis unfairly and a letter from Oswald Rugema complaining of unfair dismissal and of being arrested at the behest of the Mutabaruka on what he says is a trumped-up charge. In one of the letters which is undated Mutabaruka denies accusations of practicing ethnic segregation at CZN. These letters continue into 1994.
With the defeat of the genocidal interim regime and its army/militia at the start of July 1994, Mutabauka fled to neighbouring Tanzania (from where his wife Rose Mangura originated). From here they left to Kenya, where wife Rose again studied at Moi University (1996-8).
Life in the UK:
In late 1998 Mutabaruka arrived in the UK with wife Rose. First staying in Oxfordshire for a year before moving to Kent. Between 2001 and 2005 both studied Agricultural Science at the now defunct Wye College in Wye, Kent with money provided from the Airey Neave Trust.
In 2008 Mutabaruka founded Fountain (Pentecostal) Church which met at the Women’s Institute (W.I) Hall, Church Road, Willesborough, Ashford in its early years before moving to a unit on an Ashford industrial estate, (Montpelier Business Park, Dencora Way, Ashford, Kent), naming himself as its pastor. In recent years his son Peter has taken over as senior ‘pastor’ when Mutabaruka Snr. stepped back from leadership. Wife Rose is also a pastor at the church. In June 2008 Mutabaruka incorporated ‘Bells of Revival Worldwide Ministries’ – of which Fountain Church is the main beneficiary – as a registered company.
Together with his church commitments, around 2012 Mutabaruka founded a Rwandan ‘opposition’ political party – ‘Rwanda Rise and Shine’ (RaS). In 2017, the High Court judgement in his extradition case noted that this so-called ‘political party’ seemed to be a ‘sham’ organisation, with no credible membership, organisation or activity. Its formation was judged to be a ‘cynical ploy’ to give Mutabaruka another line of defence to avoid extradition by claiming he was a serious political opposition figure and would face persecution as such were he to be returned to Rwanda.
On 29 May 2013 Mutabaruka was arrested with the four other Rwandan suspects as part of renewed attempts by the Rwandan government to have him extradited to face charges of genocide. This (second) attempt at extradition was denied by the District Court judge Emma Arbuthnot on 22 December 2015, a decision upheld by the UK High Court in July 2017, though the lengthy judgment noted Mutabaruka, as with the four other suspects, has a prima facie case that should be tested in a court of law. He was represented by the top extradition defence barrister Helen Malcolm QC – who previously represented General Augustin Pinochet in his case against extradition to Spain – and Mark Weeks. Legal aid claimed for Mutabaruka for this extradition case (2013-17) was at least £322,000.
In January 2018, Rwandan Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana and Jean–Bosco Siboyintore, head of the Genocide Suspects Tracking Unit, travelled to London to request the United Kingdom open an investigation against the five individuals suspected of having participated in the 1994 genocide. They recalled the obligation of the United Kingdom to try or extradite such individuals.
On 9 April 2019, the Met Police anti-terrorism unit (S.O.15) reported that it was assessing the available evidence with a view to opening a full investigation. Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace announced that investigations concerning those five individuals might take up to five years. However, Wallace told members of the Parliament that the UK government would provide all necessary resources at its disposal so that justice could be served. He announced that police officers were sent to Rwanda to investigate on the ground.
In September 2020, four of the five suspects, including Mutabaruka, were voluntarily questioned by police over suspicion of genocide and crimes against humanity. None were arrested. Met police have continued with their investigations (to the present) with no outcome yet announced.
In September 2020 Mutabaruka was questioned by the Met Police anti-terrorist unit (S.O. 15) as part of an on-going investigation to decide whether he would face trial in the UK given the failure of the extradition process. The lengthy police investigation is on-going.
The continuing delay and a failure to take any action – in keeping with the UK’s dire record of bringing to justice alleged genocidaire and war criminals living openly in its communities – resulted in members of the UK parliament deciding to reform their group. On 21 April 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) announced it would ‘look into matters relating to the presence of alleged Rwandan war criminals in the UK and the prosecution of those who participated in the Rwandan genocide’.
On 26 April 2021, the Rwandan Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, held virtual discussions with the APPG, noting that “Rwanda does not seek revenge” and will not “prejudge the 5 suspects, whether they are innocent or guilty will be decided by the courts. All [Rwanda] seek[s] is that due process is followed and that justice, so far delayed, does not end up denied.”
The entrance to Fountain Church in unit 1, Montpelier Business Park, Ashford, Kent
In 2020, Mutabaruka’s son, Peter Mutabaruka, (b. 1986) took over from his father as Secretary of ‘Bells of Revival Worldwide Ministries’, which currently operates from the first floor of International House, opposite Ashford railway station (registered address: 5-6 Montpeler Business Park, Dencora Way, Ashford, Kent TN23 4FW).
Peter Mutabaruka is company secretary and a Director of Bells of Revival Worldwide Ministries. Mutabaruka’s wife Rose is also a Director and a ‘person of significant control.’ One of the five trustees (unnamed) is employed at the rate of around £30,700 per annum. One trustee Folake Iyabo Bridget Iwobo is also director of four other healthcare companies.
Bells of Revival Worldwide Ministries – Latest annual report and accounts for 2022 available to view here
Peter and Celestin Mutabaruka. Picture credit: Kent Online
Peter Mutabaruka has previously been a director of two short-lived failed companies – ‘Damaris Shops Ltd’ and ‘RMM Services Ltd.’ Damaris Shops Ltd was incorporated on 24 November 2011 as a retail clothing business with Peter Mutabaruka listed as sole Director but was dissolved on 29 October 2013. RMM services was incorporated as a company on 10 February 2015 but also dissolved just two years later in July 2017 with no account of any business activity during its short life. Peter Mutabaruka was co-director of this company together with Rose Mutabaruka. Peter Mutabaruka established the ‘United Kingdom Exports Company Ltd’ in March 2015. He is listed as sole director with its registered office at Woodview, Ashford Road, Hamstreet, Ashford TN26 2EW.
In 2022, ‘Pastor’ / ‘Rev’ Dr Celestin Mutabaruka promoted himself to become ‘Bishop’ Celestin of Fountain Church, and appeared wearing the appropriate episcopal purple shirts for his sermons even while UK Police investigations into his alleged involvement into genocide and mass murder continue.
Mutabaruka is married to Rose Mangura and they have five children.
Media Articles (PDFs):
Kent Online: Pastor Celestin Mutabaruka arrested as part of probe into Rwanda genocide investigation 6 June 2013
East African: Call to arrest all genocide suspects 7 June 2013
Kent Online: Wife of Ashford pastor accused of genocide in Rwanda claims he is victim of sinister plot 13 June 2013
Daily Telegraph: Kent pastor ‘led militia which hacked enemies to death’ in Rwandan genocide 4 March 2014
Kent Online: Fountain Church pastor Celestin Mutabaruka facing genocicde charges at Westminster Magistrates Court 30 March 2014
KT Press: UK ‘denying’ Rwandans justice 13 Aug 2017
Lawofnations blog: UK extradition refusal legal analysis 10 Oct 2017
The Sun: Genocide suspects run up 5 million legal bill 8 Sept 2018
Aegis Trust/Urumuri: survivors letter to Home Secretary 9 Dec 2018
Kent Online: Ashford pastor under investigation for alleged war crimes during Rwandan genocide 10 April 2019
Daily Mirror: Police question Rwandan suspects about genocide atrocities 15 Nov 2020
Daily Mail: Scotland Yard detectives travel to Rwanda in genocide probe 21 Jan 2023