Genocide victims being given a decent burial during a past commemoration activity. The New Times/ File.
A French court will tomorrow, Tuesday commence a trial in substance in the case in which Pascal Simbikangwa will be tried over the role he played in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The trial of the former intelligence chief is considered historic since it’s the first to be conducted in substance, by the French courts 20 years after the Genocide.
Simbikangwa, 54, is accused by the French prosecution of having supplied arms to the Interahamwe militia and ordered the massacre of the Tutsi in the former Gisenyi Prefecture in the current Rubavu District.
Reports from France indicate that the trial is expected to run for between six and eight weeks and court proceedings will be filmed.
Genocide survivors are optimistic that the trial may set a precedence and pace to try several other cases.
Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, an umbrella of associations advocating for the interests of survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, said; “Simbikangwa’s cruelty is unthinkable and that is why we are optimistic that the French will deliver justice fairly.”
Home trial preferred
However, Dusingizemungu said Rwanda’s wish is to have genocide suspects, especially those in France, extradited and tried in Rwanda.
“Our concerns rotate around the language used in trying these cases, there is fear that the context and a clear description of how the crime was committed may be lost if the trial is conducted in a foreign language,” he said.
The accused is believed to be one of the members of the ‘Akazu’ an inner group that conceptualised and oversaw the Genocide, which orchestrated the death of over a million people.
Investigations into the role Simbikangwa played in the Genocide started in 2009, one year after he was arrested in Mayotte, a French island.
Simbikangwa was arrested following a complaint made by France-based rights group Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), an association that pursues Genocide suspects living in France.
About 20 Genocide-related cases are pending before French courts.