Trial: A suspect in the 1994 Rwanda genocide goes on trial in Paris after a decades-long investigation

PARIS: A Rwandan doctor who has been living in France for decades goes on trial Tuesday in Paris over his alleged role in the 1994 genocide in his home country.
Sosthene Munyemana, 68, is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and complicity in such crimes. He has denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he is facing life sentence.
The trial comes nearly three decades after the genocide in which more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them were killed between April and July 1994.
Munyemana arrived in September 1994 in France, where he has been living and working as a doctor until he recently retired.
He has been investigated for decades and over 60 witnesses are expected to testify at his trial. Members of the Rwandan community in France first filed a complaint against Munyemana in 1995.
Munyemana, who was a 38-year-old gynecologist in the district of Burate at the time of the genocide, is accused of having co-signed in April 1994 “a motion of support for the interim government” that supervised the genocide and of having participated in a local committee and meetings that organized roundups of Tutsi civilians.
He is also accused of having locked and detained Tutsi civilians “without care, hygiene and food” in the office of the local administration that was “under his authority at the time,” and of having “relayed instructions from the authorities to the local militia and residents leading to the round up of the Tutsis,” among other things.
It is the sixth case related to the Rwandan genocide that is coming to court in Paris. The trial is scheduled to run until Dec 19.
In recent years, France has ramped up efforts to arrest and send to trial genocide suspects.
Last year, Laurent Bucyibaruta was sentenced by a Paris court to 20 years in prison for complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, making him the highest-ranking Rwandan to have been convicted in France on such charges. He appealed the decision.
Earlier this year, United Nations judges have declared an 88-year-old Rwandan genocide suspect, Felicien Kabuga, unfit to continue standing trial because he has dementia and said they would establish a procedure to hear evidence without the possibility of convicting him. Kabuga was arrested near Paris in May 2020 after years on the run.
The mass killings of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were ignited on April 6, 1994, when a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down and crashed in Kigali, the capital, killing the leader who, like most Rwandans, was a Hutu. Tutsis were blamed for downing the plane, and although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with support from the army, police and militias.


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