Two convictions in France’s second trial of Rwandan genocidaires

Following an eight-week trial, the Paris Criminal Court (Cour d’assises) has rendered an historic verdict sentencing Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahirwa to life imprisonment for the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in April 1994.

“We welcome this decision, which recognises the criminal responsibility of these two men for their participation in this bloody episode in Rwanda’s history"

FIDH and LDH, civil parties to the case

This trial, which is the second in a long series of cases opened against Rwandan nationals based in France, concerned two former local mayors in Kabarando, a municipality in the south-east of Rwanda: Octavien Ngenzi, whose request for asylum was denied in March 2010, and Tito Barahira, who was living in Toulouse.

In April 1994, Octavien Negenzi and Tito Barahira were at the heart of local political and administrative life in the municipality of Kabarondo, a factor which drove the Paris Criminal Court to find them guilty of leading and participating in several meetings aimed at co-ordinating attacks against the civilian Tutsi population, of transporting survivors for the purpose of extermination and of leading and participating in militia attacks against thousands of people seeking refuge in both a local medical centre and church. They were also found guilty of supervising large-scale killings committed in the region and of training the Interahamwe militia, who massacred many people of Tutsi ethnicity during the genocide.

The two defendants contested their participation in the facts consisting of genocide, crimes against humanity and participation in an agreement to commit these two crimes, for which they appeared for eight weeks before the Paris Criminal Court. The prosecution had requested a life sentence, the maximum penalty for these crimes.

“This historic verdict has been delivered at the end of an exemplary trial, in which the defendants’ rights have been respected. These proceedings, which have taken place over eight weeks with 100 witnesses and experts heard, have once again shown the critical role of extraterritorial jurisdiction as an indispensable foundation for pursuing the most grave violations committed outside of French territory"

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