Former Rwandan Official Given 20 Year Sentence by French Court for Genocide

A French court on Tuesday found a former Rwandan official guilty of acts of genocide and complicity in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. 

The Paris Assize Court gave the verdict to Laurent Bucyibaruta, 78, former prefect of Gikongoro province and the highest-ranking Rwandan to face trial in France over the 1994 massacres.  

The court pronounced Bucyibaruta guilty of genocide and complicity in genocide 28 years after the 1994 massacres in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in 100 days of mass killings. 

“I was never on the side of the killers,” Bucyibaruta said in court at the end of the trial. 

According to reports, Bucyibaruta either ordered or attended several “security” meetings, which prosecutors said were actually “planning sessions for the killings.” 

Reports also said that Bucyibaruta persuaded thousands of people to take refuge in the Murambi Technical School by promising them food, water, and protection, but days later, the execution of tens of thousands of Tutsis happened. 

The court also examined Bucyibaruta’s role in the massacre of around 90 Tutsi pupils at the Marie Merci school in Kibeho and the execution of Tutsi prisoners, which included three priests in Gikongoro prison. 

Reports said at least 115 witnesses and experts testified in the case, including survivors of the Marie Merci School massacre. 

Local reports said Bucyibaruta was called the “‘Butcher of Gikongoro” because of the thousands of killings under his command. 

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