Voice of America (Washington, DC)

4 February 2014

Rwanda: France Begins First Rwandan Genocide Trial

A court in France has opened the country's first trial related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Former Rwandan army officer Pascal Simbikangwa is accused of supplying and instructing Hutu radicals during attacks that killed an estimated 800,000 people.

The 54-year-old defendant, who is confined to a wheelchair, could face life in prison if convicted.

His lawyers have voiced fear he will not get a fair trial due to a lack of people to testify in his defense.

The trial is being hailed by rights advocates who accuse France of not doing enough to halt the genocide or bring its perpetrators to justice.

France had close ties to the government of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a plane crash set off the massacres of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Simbikangwa fled Rwanda after the genocide and was tracked down on the French island of Mayotte in 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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