Saturday, March 15, 2014

Universal Jurisdiction: The French Connection

A high-level intelligence official in the Rwandan government during the genocide has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. That official, Pascal Simbikangwa, is the first person to be convicted in a French court for crimes related to the Rwandan genocide. The genocide began almost 20 years ago after a plane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntayamira was shot down on April 6, 1994. An estimated 800,000 people--most of them ethnic Tutsi--were killed in only 100 days.

Simbikangwa was arrested on charges of carrying fake identification documents on the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, an overseas department of France where he was living, in 2008. While serving a two-year sentence on that charge, he was charged in connection with the Rwandan genocide. A judicial enquiry in the case lasted four years before the trial began in early February. 

There are 25 cases linked to the Rwandan genocide--along with others in Algeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Libya, and Syria--currently being investigated by a new unit in the office of the prosecutor in Paris that was created to deal with genocide-related cases.

For more (in French) on the Simbikangwa case, go here.