Michel Bagaragaza was born in 1945 in the commune of Giciye in the Gisenyi Prefecture of Rwanda. He was the managing director of OCIR-Tea the controlling body for the tea industry in Rwanda. He held this position until July 1994. In addition, he was a member of the local committee of the MRND (Republican Movement for Development and Democracy-the former presidential party) for the Gisenyi Prefecture.
Before the genocide, Bagaragaza was said to have participated in collecting funds in order to set up an armed force capable of eliminating the Tutsis. He supposedly also reached an agreement with other leaders of the presidential party of the time to have the Tutsis killed or seriously to impair their health or physical and mental well-being.
Between the 1 January and 17 July 1994, Bagaragaza was said to have conspired with those employees of the tea factory under his orders and also with other persons, with a view to killing the Tutsis in the Gisenyi Prefecture.
In 1994, Bagaragaza allegedly gave orders to those under his authority, and at the same time incited aided and encouraged those over whom he had no authority whatsoever, to murder hundreds of civilian Tutsis who had taken refuge on the Kesho hill close to a tea factory located at Rubaya and in the Nyundo Cthedral in the Gisenyi Prefecture. In addition he is reported to have given the order to supply petrol for the vehicles of the Interahamwe (extremist Hutu Militia), together with arms and ammunition which were held in the storeroom of the factory. He was also said to have given the order to his employees to lend assistance to the Interahamwe in the killing of hundreds of Tutsis.
Bagaragaza was also alleged to have contributed towards the creation, financing, training and arming of the Interahamwe in order for them to be prepared to launch attacks against Tutsi civilians. According to the prosecution’s allegations, Bagaragaza was also Honorary President of a local unit of the Interahamwe.
In July 1994, being confronted with the advance of the troops of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Bagaragaza fled Rwanda in the direction of Kenya. He voluntarily surrendered to the ICTR in Arusha on 16 August 2005 as part of an “amicable arrangement” the terms of which the prosecution refused to disclose.