29 January 2013

Rwanda: France to Conduct First Genocide Trial

Photo: SteveRwanda/Wikipedia
Kigali, Rwanda.

France has indicated intent to try first Genocide suspect, French media reported yesterday.

Pascal Simbikangwa, a Captain who headed Rwanda's intelligence agency in 1994, is set to stand trial later this year or early in 2014, in France, according to media reports.

Simbikangwa, who is suspected to have organised Interahamwe militia and prepared lists of the Tutsi to be killed during the Genocide against the Tutsis, is one of the 25 pending high-profile Genocide cases living on French soil, with impunity since 1994.

However, Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, is sceptical about the development.

Ngoga said: "A plan to hold one trial by next year is just not serious. France should not arrange symbolic trials, each case has its own merits and delays have been too much. This kind of attitude is not acceptable."

"If there is policy change in France, it should be seen as such and not just window dressing. One trial out of 25 in two years leaves much to be desired. At that pace France will need a century to deal with these cases. "

Senior French political and military leaders are believed to have played a role in teh 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.

Simbikangwa lived in Mayotte, a French Overseas Department, until he was arrested in 2008 on Genocide charges following a complaint for damages made by France-based rights group, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), an association that pursues Genocide suspects living in France.

CPCR President Alain Gauthier said he will only believe after seeing the trial take place.

Gauthier said: "What I can say is that we hope that the first trial will take place in France. Why Simbikangwa? Simply because Simbikangwa has been in prison for some time and he may not stay there very long without being tried."

"He [Simbikangwa] asked to be released several times and was refused. It is the same for Octavian Ngenzi. There are other cases that have dragged on too long: Munyeshyaka and Bucyabaruta, as well as Munyemana or Rwamucyo. And what about Kanziga? We want trials, but just like St. Thomas, I can only believe after seeing."

Simbikangwa's lawyers, Alexandra Bourgeot and Epstein Fabrice, reportedly say their client denies allegations against him.

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