Belgium Jails Rwandan for Life Over 1994 Genocide

Fri Dec 22 2023
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BRUSSELS: A Belgian court on Friday sentenced a Rwandan former militia leader to life in prison for dozens of murders and rapes committed during the 1994 genocide.

Seraphin Twarhirwa, 66, was found guilty of directly participating in or overseeing the atrocities committed by Hutu Interahamwe militiamen in Kigali during the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus thirty years ago.

A second defendant Pierre Basabose, a one-time close associate of ex-President Juvenal Habyarimana, was also found guilty of “war crimes” and “genocide” for funding the militia, according to western media reports.

But the 76-year-old, who suffers from incurable senile dementia and was unable to attend hearings, was spared prison for health reasons.

The trial of the two men, who were apprehended in 2020 in Belgium where they were living in exile, was the 6th held in the country over the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Belgium ruled what is now modern-day Rwanda during the colonial era and has a sizeable Rwandan diaspora.

Genocide in Rwanda

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during 100 days of mass killings sparked by the shooting down of Habyarimana’s plane on 6 April 1994.

The sentencing in Belgium came after a court in neighboring country France on Wednesday imprisoned former doctor Sosthene Munyemana for twenty-four years for his involvement in the genocide.

Both Twarhirwa and Basabose contested the charges during their two-month trial.

Lawyers for both men said they would appeal.

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