Laurent Bucyibaruta, a former Rwandan politician, is on trial in France for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu militias massacred over 800,000 people, predominantly ethnic Tutsis.
Mr Bucyibaruta is one of the most powerful personalities in France, where activists have long demanded that he be tried.
The 78-year-old is accused with genocide, involvement in genocide, and crimes against humanity.Due to his illness, the suspect was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair.
When the killings were reportedly plotted, Bucyibaruta is accused of attending and participating in many security meetings.
In the southern region of Gikongoro, he is suspected of arranging the deaths of thousands of people. He disputes the allegations.
Laurent Bucyibaruta was born in 1944 in Rwandan prefecture called Gikongoro. He became the prefect of Gikongoro on 4 July 1992 and held the position until July 1994. He allegedly participated as an activist in the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (NRMD) and the head of the prefectural committee of the Interahamwe movement, the youth organization of the NRMD.
He is accused of participation in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as one of the perpetrators. In December 1993, during a public rally in Gikongoro market, he allegedly made a speech in which he encouraged financial contributions from the population in order to buy arms to fight the “Tutsi enemy”. Bucyibaruta is further accused of having ordered, on several occasions, the military police, Interahamwe and armed civilians who were under his command to commit several massacres against the Tutsis.
It is believed that many of the following killings were organised and directed by him: massacre in the parish of Cyanika and Kaduha on 21 April 1994; on 22 April 1994, killing in the prison of Gikongoro; on 7 May 1994 massacre at the girls’ school in Kibeho. Additionally, on 10 April 1994, Laurent Bucyibaruta allegedly encouraged many Tutsis to go to the Murambi Technical School where they were promised food. However, the Tutsis who gathered in the school were killed on 20 and 21 April 1994 by gendarmes, policemen and armed civilians.
Laurent Bucyibaruta fled Rwanda for France in 1997.
On 30 May 2000, Laurent Bucyibaruta was arrested and indicted by the Office of the Prosecutor in Troyes on the basis of a complaint filed in the High Court of Paris on 5 January 2000 by the International Federation of Human rights (FIDH) and the League of Human Rights.
On 6 June 2000 he was put in detention. He appealed the decision and was released by the examining magistrate on 20 December 2000. Nonetheless, he remained under judicial supervision.
On 12 June 2007, the Prosecutor of the ICTR demanded from the Tribunal an authorization to defer the cases of Laurent Bucyibaruta and Wenceslas Munyeshykaya to a criminal court in France since the two men were still under investigation in France and an agreement was concluded with France 2006 which allowed for such arrangement.
Following the arrest warrant issued on 21 June 2007, asking the French authorities to arrest Bucyibaruta, while waiting for the decision of the first instance chamber of the ICTR, seized with this matter, to decide on the issue of his transfer to Rwanda, he was arrested again on 20 July 2007 by the police in Reim at his home in Saint-André-des-Vergers in the department of Aube where he was living during the previous four years. The same month, French Ministry of Justice confirmed their agreement with French judiciary taking over the cases of Laurent Bucyibaruta and Wenceslas Munyeshykaya.
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