Sosthene Munyemana handed 24-year sentence

On 20 December 2023 at 10:00

A French court has sentenced Sosthene Munyemana, a 68-year-old former Rwandan doctor, to 24 years in prison for his involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The verdict, delivered after nearly 15 hours of deliberation, found Munyemana guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and participation in a conspiracy to prepare those crimes.

Munyemana is the sixth suspect to face trial in France over the genocide, during which over 1 million Tutsis were brutally killed. The trial, held at the Assize Court in Paris over six weeks, commenced almost three decades after a complaint was filed against Munyemana in Bordeaux in 1995.

Impassive as the verdict was handed down, Munyemana was immediately incarcerated. His lawyers plan to appeal, criticizing the decision as "unacceptable" due to major contradictions in the defense testimonies, which they argue leave "room for doubt."

The public prosecutor had sought a 30-year sentence, emphasizing that Munyemana’s choices displayed "the traits of a genocidaire." Munyemana was accused of supporting the interim government by drafting a letter encouraging the massacre of Tutsis. He also faced allegations of aiding in setting up roadblocks and maintaining inhumane conditions before the killings in the Rwandan prefecture of Butare.

During the trial, Munyemana maintained his innocence, asserting that he had been a moderate Hutu trying to "save" Tutsis by offering them "refuge" in local government offices.

The judge, reading the verdict, stated that Munyemana was part of a group that "prepared, organized, and steered the genocide against the Tutsi on a daily basis."

Munyemana arrived in France in September 1994, rebuilding his life in the country’s southwest. He worked as an emergency doctor and later as a geriatrician before his recent retirement. He was close to Jean Kambanda, the prime minister of the interim government, who is serving a life sentence imposed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Munyemana’s case is the latest in a series of trials in France for alleged participants in the genocide, reflecting the country’s commitment to pursuing justice for those implicated in the Genocide.

Sosthene Munyemana has been handed 24-year jail term.