A former Rwandan army colonel Théoneste Bagosora convicted for his role in the annihilation of 800,000 people in the 1994 Rwandan genocide has died in Mali, where he had been imprisoned in Koulikoro prison.
Bagosora, 80, died at a hospital in Bamako, where he was being treated for heart issues. He was a senior figure in Rwanda’s ministry of defence at the time of the killings.
A UN-backed criminal tribunal sentenced him to life in prison, but this was later reduced to 35 years.
About 800,000 people, most of whom were Tutsi lost their lives during the 100 days of pogrom. The massacres began after a plane carrying Rwanda’s then-President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down on 6 April 1994, killing everyone on board.
Bagosora was arrested two years later in Cameroon, where he fled to after Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2008 found him guilty of crimes against humanity, and for orchestrating the murder of several political figures, including Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana.
At his trial, Bagosora maintained he was a victim of the propaganda by Rwanda’s current Tutsi-dominated government.
Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, head of the UN’s peacekeeping force during the genocide, described Bagosora as the “kingpin” behind the killings, and alleged that the former colonel had threatened to kill him.
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