Rwandan ex-mayors on trial in Paris for 1994 genocide

Two former Rwandan mayors have gone on trial in Paris, for allegedly inciting and leading the mass killing of ethnic Tutsis, during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Tite Barahirwa, 64, and Octavien Ngenzi, 58, are accused of genocide, and crimes against humanity, in the massacre of 2,000 Tutsis, who had sought refuge in a church in the eastern town of Kabarondo. 

The men, who deny any involvement, face up to life in prison, if convicted.

One hundred relatives and witnesses — some of whom came from Rwanda — will testify at the eight-week trial. It is being recorded for historical purposes.

This trial is the second held in France for suspected perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

Under a special UN-approved law, France is allowed universal jurisdiction for related crimes.

The law came after years of efforts by activist groups, who say France — which was close to the Hutu leadership of Rwanda at the time — turned a blind eye to the slaughter and allowed perpetrators to live in France unpunished.

800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists during the three months of the Rwandan genocide, in spring, 1994, according to UN figures.

Mr Barahirwa and Mr Ngenzi were arrested separately, in French territory, a few years ago and have been in custody since.


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