Former police officer to go on trial in France for genocide in Rwanda – Digital Journal

The Rwandan genocide killed an estimated 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsi, between April and July 1994 – Copyright AFP/File Simon Wohlfahrt

Alain Jean-Robert

A former Rwandan military policeman will go on trial in France on Wednesday, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 massacre in his home country.

Philippe Hategekimana, 66, fled to France after the genocide and obtained refugee status under an assumed name.

It is the fifth such trial in France of an alleged participant in the massacres between April and July 1994, which killed 800,000 people, the majority of whom were ethnic Tutsi.

Hategekimana is accused of participating in the killing of dozens of Tutsis and also setting up barricades to detain Tutsis who would later be killed in and around Nyanza, the southern provincial capital, where he worked as a senior police officer.

He has denied the charges.

The plaintiffs have accused him of “using the powers and military force conferred on him by his rank to…participate in genocide”.

He is suspected of being involved in the murder of a nun and the mayor of the town of Ntyazo who opposed the executions.

He is also accused of taking part in the killing of 300 Tutsi refugees on a hill called Nyabubare and an attack on another mountain called Nyabubare in which around 1,000 civilians were killed.

The trial in Paris will last until June 30.

In 1999 Hategekimana arrived in France and obtained refugee status under a false identity.

He became a security guard for the university in the western city of Rennes and obtained French citizenship in 2005.

He fled France to Cameroon at the end of 2017 after the press reported that the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR), one of the plaintiffs in this week’s trial, had filed a complaint against him.

He was arrested in the capital Yaoundé in 2018 and extradited to France.

France, one of the main destinations for fugitives from the massacres, has tried and convicted a former spy chief, two former mayors, a former hotel driver and a former senior official in similar trials since 2014.

But it has generally rejected requests to extradite suspects to Rwanda, prompting President Paul Kagame to accuse Paris of denying Rwandan jurisdiction.

However, relations between the two countries have heated up considerably since a report by historians commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron and published in 2021 acknowledged France’s “overwhelming” responsibilities for failing to stop the massacres.

Another Rwandan, a doctor named Sosthene Munyemana who has lived in France since 1994, faces trial in Paris before the end of the year.

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