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Photos of some of the Rwandan genocide victims Ben Curtis/PA Images

Retired doctor goes on trial in Paris over alleged role in 1994 Rwanda genocide

Sosthene Munyemana is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and complicity in such crimes.

A RWANDAN DOCTOR who has been living in France for decades goes on trial in Paris today over his alleged role in the 1994 genocide in his home country.

Sosthene Munyemana is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and complicity in such crimes.

The 68-year-old, who has denied any wrongdoing, faces a life sentence if he is convicted.

The trial comes nearly three decades after the genocide in which more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them were killed between April and July 1994.

Munyemana arrived in France in September 1994, and had been working as a doctor until his recent retirement.

He has been investigated for decades and more than 60 witnesses are expected to give evidence at his trial.

Members of the Rwandan community in France first filed a complaint against him in 1995.

Munyemana, who was a 38-year-old gynaecologist in the district of Burate at the time of the genocide, is accused of having co-signed in April 1994 “a motion of support for the interim government” which supervised the atrocity and of having participated in a local committee and meetings that organised round-ups of Tutsi civilians.

He is also accused of having locked up and detained Tutsi civilians “without care, hygiene and food” in the office of the local administration that was “under his authority at the time”, and of having “relayed instructions from the authorities to the local militia and residents leading to the round-up of the Tutsis”, among other things.

It is the sixth case related to the Rwandan genocide that is coming to court in Paris. The trial is scheduled to run until 19 December.

In recent years, France has ramped up efforts to arrest and send to trial genocide suspects.

Last year, Laurent Bucyibaruta was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Paris court for complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, making him the highest-ranking Rwandan to have been convicted in France on such charges. He appealed against the decision.

Earlier this year, United Nations judges declared an 88-year-old Rwandan genocide suspect, Felicien Kabuga, unfit to continue standing trial because he has dementia and said they would establish a procedure to hear evidence without the possibility of convicting him. Kabuga was arrested near Paris in May 2020 after years on the run.

The mass killings of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were ignited on 6 April 1994, when a plane carrying then-president Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down and crashed in Kigali, the capital, killing the leader who, like most Rwandans, was a Hutu.

Tutsis were blamed for downing the plane, and, although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with support from the army, police and militias.

Press Association