Sosthène Munyemana, 68, is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and complicity in such crimes. He has denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
This trial comes almost three decades after the genocide during 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, where he lived and worked as a doctor until his recent retirement.
He has been under investigation for decades and more than 60 witnesses are expected to testify at his trial. Members of the Rwandan community in France first filed a complaint against Munyemana in 1995.
Munyemana, who was a 38-year-old gynecologist in the Burate district at the time of the genocide, is accused of having co-signed in April 1994 “a motion of support for the interim government” which oversaw the genocide and of having participated in a local committee and at meetings organizing roundups of Tutsi civilians.
He is also accused of having locked up and detained Tutsi civilians “without care, without hygiene and without food” in the local administration office which was “at the time under his authority” and of having “relayed instructions from the authorities to local militias.” and the residents who led to the roundup of Tutsis”, among others.
This is the sixth case linked to the Rwandan genocide to be brought before the Paris court. The trial is expected to run until December 19.
In recent years, France has stepped up its efforts to arrest and bring to justice genocide suspects.
Last year, Laurent Bucyibaruta was sentenced by a Paris court to 20 years in prison for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity, making him the highest-ranking Rwandan to be convicted in France on such charges. . He appealed the decision.
Earlier this year, United Nations judges declared a Rwandan genocide suspect, Félicien Kabuga, 88, unfit to stand trial because he suffers from dementia and said they would establish a procedure to hear the evidence without the possibility of convicting him. Kabuga was arrested near Paris in May 2020 after years on the run.
The massacres of RwandaRwanda’s Tutsi population became enraged on April 6, 1994, when a plane carrying then-president Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down and crashed in the capital Kigali, killing the leader who, like the most Rwandans, was a Hutu. The Tutsis were accused of shooting down the plane and, although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with the support of the army, the police and militias.