Rwanda Genocide Architect Theoneste Bagosora Dies in Prison at Age 80

Theoneste Bagosora, the former Rwandan army colonel who orchestrated the 1994 genocide, has died in Mali where he was serving a prison sentence.

Bagosora’s son Achille confirmed to BBC News that the military leader dubbed as the “Colonel of the Apocalypse” died at a hospital in Bamako, where he was being treated for heart issues, at the age of 80.

A hospital official told AFP News that Bagosora died of “heart failure” and did not give any further details.

Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the head of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force during the killings, described Bagosora as the “kingpin” behind the genocide that killed around 800,000 people — mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group.

Bagosora was arrested two years after a plane carrying Rwanda’s then-President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down in 1994, which killed everyone on board and sparked the massacre.

The UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda initially sentenced Bagosora to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity in his role in the genocide.

An appeal court reduced his sentence to 35 years after some charges were overturned. The court, however, ruled that Bagosora knew the massacres were planned and did nothing to stop them, even though he had the position to do so as a senior figure in Rwanda’s ministry of defense at the time.

Last April, a court denied his request of an early release because of the “extremely high gravity (of his) crimes” and his failure to demonstrate rehabilitation.

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