News / Africa

Defendant in Rwanda Genocide Trial in France Minimizes Role

This court sketch shows Pascal Simbikangwa, a former Rwandan army captain charged with complicity in the '94 genocide, on the first day of his trial  in France, Feb. 4, 2014.
This court sketch shows Pascal Simbikangwa, a former Rwandan army captain charged with complicity in the '94 genocide, on the first day of his trial in France, Feb. 4, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Rwanda's former intelligence director denied charges of crimes against humanity and complicity in the 1994 genocide and told a Paris court on Wednesday he did not participate in “the descent into chaos” in his homeland.
 
On the second day of the high-profile trial, Pascal Simbikangwa sought to minimize his role in the three-month wave of bloodletting that killed some 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.
 
“I participated neither in the end of the war nor in the descent into chaos,” Simbikangwa, 54, told the court.
 
Under French law, Rwandans suspected of being involved in the genocide can be tried in a French court.
 
Coming two decades after the genocide, Simbikangwa's trial marks the first time France has put a suspected accomplice in the dock. It follows similar trials in other European countries such as Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
 
The wheelchair of former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is seen before the start of his trial at Paris court, Feb. 4, 2014.The wheelchair of former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is seen before the start of his trial at Paris court, Feb. 4, 2014.
x
The wheelchair of former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is seen before the start of his trial at Paris court, Feb. 4, 2014.
The wheelchair of former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa is seen before the start of his trial at Paris court, Feb. 4, 2014.
After a 1986 car accident that left him a paraplegic, Simbikangwa left the army and joined the intelligence services. Prosecutors say that at the time of the genocide, he held the title of director and he was No. 3 in that agency.
 
“Even though I was called a director, I didn't have a role, I didn't have decision-making power,” said Simbikangwa, sitting in a wheelchair in the defendant's box. “I was a mere agent. The rest is a lot of nonsense.”
 
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Simbikangwa was a hardliner in the inner circle of former president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu whose death in the downing of his aircraft in the spring of 1994 triggered the mass killing spree against ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists.
 
The defendant said he admired Habyarimana because “his policies were about calming things down” between the two tribes, but denied being part of the president's National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), which played a major role in organizing the genocide.
 
The court president said witnesses questioned during the preliminary investigation refuted that argument, citing one man who said he was hired by Simbikangwa to recruit youth for the party and a woman who said she saw him at meetings.
 
“Do you believe, Mr. President, that in my wheelchair I could go to a meeting? To do what?” the defendant replied.
 
Some 50 witnesses were expected during the two-month trial to describe what they said was the Simbikangwa's role in arming and directing Hutu killers.
 
Simbikangwa, who was arrested in 2008 on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, faces a life sentence if convicted with a mandatory 22 years behind bars.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ann Garrison
February 09, 2014 5:08 PM
This whole story of the Rwandan Genocide that you tell as though it were undisputed and written in stone is false, beginning with this description: " . . . three-month wave of bloodletting that killed some 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus."

This description has been widely disputed, with evidence, by genocide survivors, ICTR defense lawyers, and academics. University of Michigan Professor Alan Stam pointed out, in his presentation “Understanding the Rwanda Genocide,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi0h-EASsSU, at the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, that the 1991 Rwandan census reported a Rwandan population of 7,590,235, including 645,170 Tutsis, and if that’s true, then this reference to “the death of more than a million Tutsis in Rwanda” isn’t plausible. The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda’s website includes a page titled Second Rwanda General Census of Population and Housing - 1991, but, on June 2nd last year, when Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, President of the Ibuka genocide survivors group was claiming that a million Tutsis died in the genocide, there were no statistics on that website. And there are none there now, though it is possible to download a document tree that leads nowhere and provides no information.

Several new and carefully researched books present a more plausible interpretation of the evidence of what really happened. One is Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa by Robin Philpot, another is Accidental Genocide, by Law Professor and former ICTR Defense Lawyer Peter Erlinder.

In Response

by: Ann Garrison
February 09, 2014 9:59 PM
Replying to myself here, with this addendum:

The VOA text of this story actually said "800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus," but if there were 645,170 Tutsis in Rwanda and 300,000 survived, as the Ibuka survivors group has claimed, then 345,170 died. So if 800,000 Rwandans died, 454,830 'moderate Hutus" must have died in what the RPF insists was "the genocide against the Tutsi."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid