By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A court in France has Jailed a former doctor in Rwanda, Sosthene Munyemana for 24 years over his involvement in the 1994 genocide in the East African country that killed around one million persons.
The court found Munyemana guilty of crimes including genocide and crimes against humanity.
He was accused of organising torture and killings in the genocide that happened between April and June 1994.
A complaint was filed against him in Bordeaux in 1995. It took French prosecutors 28 years to serve Munyemana justice.
In 1994, Munyemena was a gynaecologist in Butare, Southern Rwanda, and was accused of helping set up roadblocks to round people up, and keeping them in inhumane conditions in local government offices before they were killed.
He was also accused of drafting a widely-distributed letter encouraging the massacre of Tutsis, which prosecutors said was used as justification for future attacks.
Most of those killed in the genocide were from the minority Tutsi ethnic group, and opponents of the extremist Hutu government.
During the trial, Munyemana, who moved to France in 1994, repeatedly disputed the accusations against him, claiming he had been a moderate Hutu trying to save Tutsis by offering them refuge in local government offices.
The prosecutor had sought a 30-year jail sentence during the six-week trial in Paris.
Reading the verdict, the judge said Munyemana was part of a group that “prepared, organised and steered the genocide of the Tutsis… on a daily basis”.
After arriving in France in September 1994 where his wife was already living – Munyemana lived in the country’s Southwest, and worked as a doctor and recently retired.
Munyemana was a close associate of Jean Kambanda, who was interim prime minister at the height of the 1994 killings.
Kambanda is currently serving a life sentence in Mali, imposed by a United Nations war crimes tribunal for his role in the genocide.
The genocide was sparked by the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana when his plane was shot down above the airport in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, on 6th April.
Mr Habyarimana is from Rwanda’s Hutu ethnic majority.