France jails Rwandan mayors over genocide

Jul 07, 2016, 3:57 AM EDT
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
(Source: Trocaire/flickr)

A French court sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for orchestrating the massacre of hundreds of ethnic Tutsis during the country's 1994 genocide. `The eight-week trial concluded that the two convicts acted as “supervisors” and “executioners,” as Hutu extremists bludgeoned and hacked to death some 2,000 people, who took refuge in a church in the town of Kabarondo two decades ago.

Ethnic violence erupted in Kabarondo a week after a plane carrying Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana was brought down in a rocket attack, reports France 24.

Tito Barahira and Octavien Ngenzi, who were arrested separately on France territory a few years ago, denied any involvement in the killings, writes the BBC. The landmark ruling comes after a French court convicted Rwandan ex-intelligence chief Pascal Simbikangwa of genocide and sentenced him to 25 years in prison in 2014.

The Rwandan genocide lasted for about 100 days, in which more than 800,000 people were slaughtered by Hutu militias, notes Sky News. According to the International Federation for Human Rights, some 30 cases related to the massacre are pending in French courts. The latest verdict holds great significance given a political turmoil in neighboring Burundi, which threatens a repeat of “Rwanda’s Hutu on Tutsis violence.”