Augustin Ndindiliyamana was born on or around 15 April 1943, in the Nyaruhengeri commune, in the prefecture of Butare, Rwanda. From 1973, he held ministerial positions (notably as Minister for Youth and Minister of Defence) under the regime of President Habyarimana. On 2 September 1992, he was named Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie, a position which he held until July 1994. In this capacity, he exercised authority over the entire National Gendarmerie. The National Gendarmerie was in charge of maintaining public order and peace as well as the observance of the laws in force throughout the country. Moreover it had the duty to assist anyone in danger.
According to the indictment, from late 1990 until July 1994, Ndindiliyamana 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, Ndindiliyimana is said to have organised, ordered and participated in the massacres of the Tutsi population.
In order to implement the plan to exterminate the Tutsi and members of the opposition, the military and civilian authorities, from the end of 1992, distributed weapons to the militias and certain members of the civilian population. Due to the widespread availability of arms in the Kigali-town prefecture, UNIMAR (United Nations Mission for Assistance in Rwanda) set up a disarmament programme, known as “Kigali Weapon Security Area” (KWSA). This programme came into force at the beginning of 1994. Alongside this, and with the cooperation of Ndindiliyamana, UNIMAR organised search operations in Kigali. However the efficiency of these operations was compromised by Ndindiliyamana who is reported to have given advance warning of the sites to be searched to Mathieu Ngirumpatse, the President of the MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the party of the President. The latter is said to have passed on this information to the Interahamwe (extremist Hutu militia), who immediately moved the arms to another location.
On 10 January 1994, UNIMAR was informed, by an Interahamwe leader, about an arms cache in Kigali, and about a plan to eliminate the Tutsi population. On 13 January 1994, several arms caches were discovered in Kigali in places under the control of members of the MRND, in particular at the party’s headquarters in Kimihrura in a house owned by Ndindiliyamana. During the search, several firearms and cases of ammunition were discovered.
UNIMAR 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 UNIMAR. Over time their objective was to force them to leave the country. On 7 January 1994, Ndindiliyamana and other influential personalities took part in a meeting held at the headquarters of the MRND. During this meeting it was reportedly decided to provoke the Belgians by various different means.
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).They were disarmed and held prisoner together with five Ghanaian soldiers who were responsible for ensuring the safety of the Prime Minister. Despite having negotiated surrender with a promise to be taken to a UNIMAR 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 murdered immediately. The six other Belgian soldiers held out against several attacks for a period of a few hours before finally being killed.
Meanwhile, a hundred metres from this spot, Ndindiliyamana was taking part in a meeting at the Higher Military School, when he was informed of the danger which the Belgian soldiers were incurring. Ndindiliyamana made no decision to save them and continued with his meeting until around noon. On 13 April 1994, in consideration of the death of 10 of its soldiers, Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent from Rwanda.
From April to July 1994, by virtue of their position, their statements, the orders they issued and their actions, Ndindiliyimana, as well as Augustin Bizimungu Major Protais Mpiranya, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, 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 further crimes of a sexual nature, which were widespread throughout the entire territory of Rwanda and had the full knowledge of Ndindiliyimana, Bizimungu, Mpiranya, Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu.
From April to July 1994, in all regions of the country, members of the Tutsi population who were fleeing from the massacres in 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. Augustin Ndindiliyimana, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie, knew, or had reasons to know, that his subordinates were about to commit or had committed crimes and did nothing to prevent such crimes or punish the perpetrators.
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), Ndindiliyimana fled Rwanda. On 29 January 2000, he was arrested in Termonde, Belgium, where he had been granted the status of political refugee.