Two former Rwandan mayors have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Paris for crimes against humanity and genocide committed in 1994.
This is the heaviest penalty for genocide ever handed down by a French court. According to the news sources, Octavien Ngenzi and his predecessor Tito Barahira were found guilty of overseeing the massacre of 2,000 Tutsi who had sought refuge in the village church-charges both have consistently denied.
In 2014, former army captain Pascal Simbikangwa got 25 years in solitary confined for genocide and crimes against humanity.
The eight-week trial has heard chilling testimony depicting the two men as ‘supervisors’ and “executioners” in the massacre at the height of the genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists.
In January, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) formally closed after issuing 45 judgments. In September a court in Toulouse, France, refused extradition requests for Joseph Habyarimana, a Rwandan man, facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
In January of last year, two Rwandan police officers were sentenced to 20 years in jail for the murder of a Transparency International anti-corruption activist.
In July 2014, the ICTR unanimously affirmed a 30-year jail sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for the role he played in the genocide. In December 2012, the ICTR convicted former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.
Paris created a special court to go after suspected Rwandan killers who fled to France, it is expected to lay bare the strained relations between the two countries. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has consistently accused France of complicity in the genocide, which saw at least 800,000 people die in an 100-day slaughter. Read also: Sweden-sentences-Rwandan-for-life-over-role-in-genocide.