Genocide suspect Hategekimana handed life sentence

On 29 June 2023 at 06:51

The Paris Court of Assises has handed a life sentence to Rwandan national Philippe Hategekimana, also known as Biguma, who had obtained French citizenship under the name Philippe Manier.

Following a two-month trial, Hategekimana was found guilty of committing genocide offenses during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in various areas of the Nyanza district in the Southern Province. At the time, he served as an Adjutant Gendarme in the former government, which planned and executed the genocide.

Hategekimana was convicted of genocide crimes and crimes against humanity, including his involvement in massacres in Nyanza, Nyabubare, Nyamure, Ntyazo, and Isar Songa. Witnesses, including survivors of the genocide and fellow gendarmes, testified that Hategekimana either led gendarmes in firing upon Tutsi individuals or coordinated with both gendarmes and Interahamwe militias at roadblocks. Numerous witnesses reported seeing Hategekimana himself firing at Tutsi victims or making explicit threats to kill them in various locations.

The court also found Hategekimana responsible for the killings of Bourgmester Nyagasaza Narcisse, who was the mayor of the then Ntyazo commune, as well as police officer Pierre Nyakarashi and Musonera, also known as Sana Sana. Hategekimana was further held accountable for the killings that took place at the Rwesero, Mushirarungu, and Nyanza roadblocks.

Me Richard Gisagara, representing the civil parties, highlighted Hategekimana’s attitude throughout the trial among other contributing factors to the decision to impose a life sentence.

Gisagara said that he showed no remorse, consistently denied all accusations, and pretended not to recognize any of the witnesses.

Hategekimana,66, chose to remain silent towards the end of the trial, except for a statement proclaiming his innocence. His defense team, consisting of four lawyers, continued to present arguments on his behalf.

Hategekimana was arrested in Cameroon in 2018 and subsequently deported to France, where he had acquired citizenship under the false identity of Philippe Manier by deceiving the French authorities. The defense has ten days to file an appeal, but no party expressed an intention to do so on the day of the ruling.

This case marks the sixth genocide trial concluded in France thus far. Previous convictions include Pascal Simbikangwa, who received a 25-year sentence; Ngenzi Octavien and Tito Barahira, who were handed life imprisonment on appeal; Claude Muhayimana, sentenced to 14 years; and Laurent Bucyibaruta, who received a 20-year sentence.

Hategekimana’s trial began on 10th May 2023.

His life sentence represents the latest outcome in the pursuit of justice for the crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Many people turned up at the court to hear the verdict.
Lawyer André-Martin Karongozi (left) and Gisagara Richard during an interview with IGIHE.
Enthusiasts about history of Genocide against the Tutsi including Bruce Clarke (left), chatting after the ruling.
Members of the defence team that represented interests of Genocide survivors.
The Paris Court of Assises has handed a life sentence to Rwandan national Philippe Hategekimana.