22 years on: second trial in France of Rwandans accused of genocide

On 10 May 2016, the trial of Octavien Ngenzi and Tite Barahirwa will open before the Paris criminal courts (Cour d’assises).

During this trial – the second of a long series of cases opened against Rwandan nationals based in France – Octavien Ngenzi and Tite Barahirwa, both former local mayors in Kabarando, a municipality in the south-east of Rwanda, during the genocide committed against the Tutsi population in Rwanda in 1994, will be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

We welcome the opening of this trial which, two years after that of Pascal Simbikangwa, marks a new and important step in the fight against impunity of perpetrators of the genocide committed against Tutsis in Rwanda, during which almost one million people were killed, stated the civil parties to the case, which include both individuals and organisations (FIDH, LDH, CPCR, Survie, LICRA and Association CRF).

The civil parties have learned with great concern, however, of the sudden withdrawal from the Prosecution of the representative from the Paris courts’ specialised unit on crimes against humanity and war crimes, who will not be participating in the case alongside the Attorney General, as had been the case during the previous trial in 2014.

The civil parties recall that this unit is designed to respond to the need for specialisation of the authorities in charge of prosecuting and investigating these types of crimes, owing to their complexity and the various extraneous elements surrounding their perpetration.

We question the reasons behind this situation, which we hope does not represent a change of direction from the Prosecution, whose written submissions greatly contributed to both of the accused being sent to appear before the Cour d’Assises. We do not want the proper administration of justice to be affected, we want all the conditions of a fair, exemplary trial to remain in existence in the normal exercise of each actor’s role and prerogatives, declared the civil parties.

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