Rwanda: France - Trial Goes Underway for Genocide Suspect Claude Muhayimana

22 November 2021

The trial of key Genocide suspect, Claude Muhayimana, finally started on Monday, November 22, at the Cour d'Assises Paris in France after being postponed on several occasions.

It was initially scheduled to run from September 29 to October 23, 2020 but got pushed to February 2 to 26, 2021, and later, due to Covid-19, was again postponed to November 22.

According to the released calendar, the hearing will run through December 17.

A naturalised French citizen, Muhayimana is accused of playing a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Speaking to The New Times, Richard Gisagara, a Rwandan lawyer based in France who has closely been following the case, said that this is the first time the French court will hear about what happened in Bisesero, in western Rwanda where over 50,000 Tutsi were killed during the Genocide.

"The crime of genocide has no statute of limitations. It can never get outdated, residents in Bisesero can expect justice. This trial will also help us to know more about what happened and maybe lead to the arrest of other suspects," he said.

This will also highlight the heroic acts of Abasesero who initially resisted militias during the Genocide, he added.

For years, France-based Collectif des parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), which works to see Genocide suspects living in France brought to book, has been pushing for this trial.

Muhayimana worked as a driver at a hotel in the former Kibuye prefecture in western Rwanda, and the rights group accused him of transporting Interahamwe militia to various localities where massacres were carried out.

He is accused of participating in the massacre of the Tutsi in the Saint-Jean compound in the town of Kibuye and in Gatwaro stadium, killing people in the area.

He is said to worked closely with then prefect of Kibuye, Clément Kayishema, who is said to have ordered the atrocities which took place in that stadium.

Kayishema was tried and convicted by a UN court and died in 2016 in a prison in Mali, where he was serving a life sentence.

Ibuka France, in a statement, said that it was satisfied that the trial was finally taking place after 10 years of pitfalls encountered during judicial procedures.

Egide Nkuranga, President of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors, said the trial had been hampered by different political reasons over the past years, but "now they (France) have shown interest in collaborating to address the issue of impunity."

The 60-year-aged, was investigated in December 2011 when an international arrest warrant was issued against him. In March 2012, he was arrested at his workplace in the city of Rouen and placed under extradition.

However, he was released and placed under judicial supervision, two extradition orders were overturned in 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, Muhayimana was again arrested and placed under investigation on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity.

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