Rwanda: Survivors Welcome Trial of Genocide Fugitive in France

Ibuka, an umbrella organisation of associations of Genocide survivors, has welcomed the latest move by French judiciary to try Philippe Hategekimana, who faces charges of masterminding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The trial started on Wednesday, May, 10 and it is expected to last until June 30.

Hategekimana, 66, who fled to France five years after the Genocide had started a new life under a false identity, and had obtained refugee status under a fake name.

He became a university security guard in the city of Rennes and eventually gained French citizenship in 2005.

According to media reports, the fugitive had fled France for Cameroon in late 2017 after the press reported that the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda, an organisation that works to bring to book genocide fugitives, had filed a complaint against him.

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

“The arrest of Hategekimana was delayed because he had hidden his identity. We appreciate France’s step and efforts in the recent years that have led to the trial of this genocide perpetrator. We now see political will to deliver justice for the victims of 1994 genocide against the Tutsi,” noted Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka.

Hategekimana is charged with masterminding the murder of Tutsis and setting up roadblocks to stop Tutsis who would then be killed in and around the present-day Nyanza district where he worked as a senior police officer.

“He led killings on the hills of Nyamure and Nyabubare and former Ntyazo, Nyabisindu and Rusatira communes,” Ahishakiye said. All these areas are in southern Rwanda.

He is suspected of killing a nun and Tharcisse Nyagasaza, the then mayor of Ntyazo, who opposed the genocide against the Tutsi.

“The decision to try Hategekimana restores hope amongst genocide survivors who have demanded justice for long. It creates hope that more genocide fugitives will be brought to book. This step should be a lesson to genocide perpetrators on the run that they will be eventually arrested and tried,” he said.

He added that although there is a big number of genocide fugitives in France, there is assurance of trying many considering that a lot of files have been put together waiting for action.