February 4, 2014

Rwanda Ex-spy Chief Tried In Paris On Genocide Charges

Pascal Simbikangwa lost his legs in a car accident in the 1986
Pascal Simbikangwa lost his legs in a car accident in the 1986

A French court has begun hearing the landmark trial of a former Rwandan intelligence chief charged with complicity in the 1994 genocide.

Pascal Simbikangwa, who is wheelchair bound, was arrested in 2008 when he was living under an alias on France’s Indian Ocean island of Mayotte.

He denies all of the charges.

France has come under criticism for its slow exercise of justice after the killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans over 100 days in 1994.

Mr Simbikangwa, 54, stands accused of helping to arm Hutu militia who manned roadblocks in the capital, and instructing them about their part in the slaughter.

He has acknowledged being close to the government of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination in 1994 led to the outbreak of violence that killed some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

More than 50 journalists, historians, farmers, security guards, and former intelligence officials are expected to be called as witnesses in the trial.

The trial is expected to last seven weeks.

Correspondents say the delay in bringing suspected genocide perpetrators to trial raises questions about France’s post-colonial role in Africa.

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