French prosecutors call for genocide trial of former Rwandan army captain
French prosecutors have called for a former captain in the Rwandan army to be put on trial for his alleged role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Investigating magistrates will decide whether Pascal Simbikangwa, who was arrested on the French island of Mayotte in 2008, will face charges of “complicity in genocide” and “complicity in crimes against humanity”.
If the 53-year old is charged, it would be France’s first attempt to prosecute over the genocide.
In 1994, Simbikangwa was an intelligence officer under Rwanda’s Hutu government led by president Juvénal Habyarimnana.
Habyarimnana’s assassination in April that year led to the genocide of up to a million people, mostly Tutsis, in the space of 100 days.
In early 2010, France established a new unit to investigate cases of genocide and crimes against humanity involving suspects detained in France.
Simbikangwa has been held in detention in France since his arrest.
France has repeatedly refused to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda, fearing they would be denied a fair trial, but it has sent some to Tanzania to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Several reports and investigations, including those carried out by France, Rwanda and the United Nations, have criticised France’s role in Rwanda during the genocide.
The issue remains a sore point in relations between France and Rwanda.