Rwanda: In Paris, a former Rwandan police officer is on trial for genocide involvement

Rwanda: In Paris, a former Rwandan police officer is on trial for genocide involvement

By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria

A Rwandan ex-military police officer is being tried in Paris on charges of crimes against humanity after fleeing to France following the 1994 genocide under a false identity.

Philippe Hategekimana, 66, escaped to France five years after the slaughter, getting displaced person status under a phony name. He obtained French citizenship in 2005 and worked as a university security guard in Rennes.

He is accused of participating in the Rwandan genocide, which killed 800,000 people, the majority of whom were ethnic Tutsis, between April and July 1994.

Hategekimana is accused of setting up roadblocks to prevent Tutsis from being killed in and around Nyanza, the southern provincial capital, where he worked as a senior police official, as well as being involved in the murder of dozens of Tutsis. He has refuted the allegations.

He has been accused of “using the powers and military force conferred to him through his rank in order to… participate in the genocide” by the plaintiffs.

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He is thought to have been involved in the assassinations of a nun and the mayor of Ntyazo, who opposed the assassinations. In addition, he is accused of being involved in the killing of 300 Tutsi refugees on a hill known as Nyamugari and in an attack on another mountain known as Nyabubare that resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,000 civilians.

He fled France for Cameroon at the end of 2017 after news broke that one of the plaintiffs in this week’s trial, the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda, had filed a complaint against him. He was captured in the capital, Yaoundé, in 2018 and removed to France.

The case starting on Wednesday is the fifth preliminary in France of a supposed member in the Rwandan decimation, following quite a while of strains among Paris and Kigali over the pretended by France previously and during the killings. Kigali said that France didn’t do enough to stop the genocide and later for the justice system.

Kigali has long alleged that Rwandan genocide suspects were shielded by France, one of the top destinations for fugitives from the massacres. Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, stated that Paris was denying Rwanda jurisdiction after France has consistently rejected requests to extradite suspects to Rwanda.

A former spy chief was given a 25-year prison sentence in 2014, making it the first Rwanda genocide trial in France. Since then, similar trials have been held against two former mayors, a former hotel chauffeur, and a former top official. Sosthene Munyemana, a doctor from Rwanda who has lived in France since 1994, is scheduled to stand trial in Paris later this year.

Relations among France and Rwanda have now warmed impressively since a students of history’s report charged by Emmanuel Macron and delivered in 2021 perceived France’s “staggering” obligations in neglecting to stop the slaughters.

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