Rwanda: French Court Hands Hategekimana Life Sentence for Genocide Crimes

The Cour d’assises de Paris has delivered a life sentence to Philippe Hategekimana, the former deputy commander of Gendarmerie (police), for his involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Hategekimana, 66, a resident of France for many years, underwent a trial that commenced on May 10 and concluded on Wednesday, June 28, spanning nearly two months before the court reached its verdict.

He was found guilty of charges related to Genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity. These charges encompass the massacres in Nyanza, Nyabubare, Nyamure, Ntyazo, and ISAR (Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda) Songa, where Hategekimana was reported to have either led the gendarmes involved in the killing of Tutsi individuals or coordinated with both the gendarmes and Interahamwe at the roadblocks.

Hategekimana was also convicted of murdering Bourgmester Nyagasaza Narcisse of the former Ntyazo commune, as well as police officer called Pierre Nyakarashi.

According to Richard Gisagara, a lawyer representing the civil parties, the decision to hand Hategekimana a life sentence was reinforced by several factors, including his demeanor in court. Gisagara said, “He displayed no remorse whatsoever, attempting to deny everything and pretending to be unfamiliar with any of the witnesses.”

Meanwhile, Hategekimana has been granted 10 days to appeal the court’s decision.

Having fled to France and assumed the false identity of Phillippe Manier, Hategekimana obtained refugee status and later worked as a university security guard in Rennes. He acquired French citizenship in 2005.

However, media reports indicate that he fled France for Cameroon in late 2017 after facing press coverage regarding a complaint filed against him by the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda, an organization dedicated to bringing genocide fugitives to justice.

In 2018, Hategekimana was apprehended in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, and subsequently extradited to France. Since 2019, he has been in custody awaiting trial.

This trial marks the fifth instance in France where a perpetrator in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is convicted.

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