Rwanda: Verdict due in France trial of ex-governor accused of complicity in 1994 genocide

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Tokunbo Salako: A court in Paris will deliver its verdict today after the lengthy trial of Laurent Bucyiburata, the former Rwandan prefect who is accused of aiding and abetting the genocide that left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the country back in 1994. Jerry Fisayo-bambi from our sister service, Africa News, has been following the proceedings and he joins me now in the studio. Jerry, prosecutors have been calling forLaurent Bucyiburata to spend his life behind bars, but he's not actually accused of killing anyone himself, is he? 

Jerry Fisayo-Bambi: Indeed. But if there's anything that this case reminds us of brings to the fore. It's the role of responsibility and leadership, particularly for those who, under overwhelming circumstances or pressing times, choose to look the other way and not act when heinous crimes were being committed under their watch. 

It also brings to the fore the role of France in the genocide and the prosecution of suspects, many of whom have sought refuge or have been protected in this country for decades. But we will come to that in a bit. But look;  Laurent Bucyiburata was the police chief at the time of the murder of thousands of Tutsis by their Hutu neighbours in 1994. He is accused of overseeing some of the most dastardly acts that took place. The killings of students at a secondary school, Tutsis in churches, in jails or prison centres. Many Tutsis whom he had vowed to protect, in fact but instead oversaw their extermination.

Many of the several witnesses and survivors today claimed that, in fact, his promise of protection was a trap because he's is allegedly accused of in fact, leading the attacks that took place, that saw the killings of some of these people. And I think this is a very important trial because it's at this time taking place in France in the sense of the renewed attempts by France to renew its relationship. 

Tokunbo Salako: Why is this trial being or being held in France? Remind us of the reasons why?

Jerry: Well, there's been a lot of eyebrows about France's role in the genocide itself. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, wants to build a new future with Rwanda. Last year he was in Kigali and he vowed that some of the suspects will be prosecuted. Now, there are about 100 suspects believed to be here in France. 30 of them are currently under investigation. 

This is the highest trial of a suspect involved in the genocide outside Rwanda. Bucybabruta is the biggest suspect being tried here in France. And I think that it spells a new dawn for the relationship of France and Rwanda, especially as it pertains to its past. It also hopes to bring about justice for victims and their families.

Jerry Fisayo Bambi has been following that trial, has been going on for nine weeks now in France. Thanks very much.

Jerry:  You're welcome. Thank you.

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