Fabien Neretse is among the prominent planners of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. In November 2019, he was accused of 13 war and genocide crimes including participation in massacres in Kigali and Mataba located in former Ruhengeri, in North-Western Rwanda and of creating, maintaining and financing Interahamwe militia, responsible for many massacres of Tutsi and Hutu opponents.
Karongozi André Martin, a lawyer who represents victims of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi told IGIHE that Neretse was found guilty on all counts of crimes he was accused of. He said that the verdict was satisfying after more than a month of his denial of being the mastermind behind the killings in Kigali and Mataba. “We are happy that finally, justice has been served for crimes he so heartily denied.”
As the trial of Neretse unfolded, his lawyers kept maintaining that there were three genocides including genocide against Hutu, genocide against Tutsi and an alleged genocide that happened in Congo Kinshasa.
Karongozi explained that among the people he was accused of killing, the court found that he did not take part in the killings of two of them.
“He was found guilty of all the crimes he was accused of except the killings of Ildephonse who was ambushed at a roadblock near Charles Lwanga church and Rutonesha Sixbert who hid in the attic of his house but later moved out only to be assassinated in the vicinities of Jesuits abbey in Nyamirambo.”
Karongozi said that “Among the crimes he was accused of are the killing of Mpendwanzi and Nzamwita and countless other victims in Mataba. Belgium is the first country to succeed in bringing Neretse before a court of justice.”
He added that lawyers cannot repair the wrong that has been done but that at least when justice is served, the survivors can find peace of mind. He thanked the families of victims that allowed him to represent them and said that trust was not in vain.
On Tuesday, December 17th, 2019, the Brussels Court of Assize started examining all the evidence on the basis of several testimonies from survivors.
Felicite Ryamukuru, the president of Ibuka Belgium told IGIHE that she is satisfied with the verdict and that survivors will now have peace of mind knowing that justice has been served.
“We are relieved at last. We attended the hearing and waited for a verdict for almost two days. We were starting to lose hope but now that he was found guilty not only of war but genocide crimes, we are convinced Brussels court really played its part.”
She added that a genocide criminal being found guilty is a fair warning to all genocide deniers that indeed those atrocities were committed.
Neretse will be sentenced today, December 20th, 2019.
The trial of Fabien Neretse who is now 71 years old started on November 4th, 2019 where 106 witnesses were summoned to appear and 25 hearings were scheduled until December 16th, 2019.
Neretse who originates from former Ruhengeri was arrested in France in 2011. He was a prominent figure in Habyarimana’s government and was first indicted for ordering soldiers to open fire on ten people killing the Belgian Claire Beckers, her husband Isaiah Bucyana and their daughter Katia.
This happened on April 9th, 1994 after the victims were ambushed on their way to find refuge at UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda) camp in Nyamirambo.
At ACEDI-Mataba, a school that Neretse founded, he created and helped train an Interahamwe militia which carried out numerous massacres of Tutsi and Hutu opposition members in Mataba, Ruhengeri.
The Fabien Neretse trial is the fifth trial in Belgium relating to the Rwandan genocide. The Brussels Assizes Court also expects trials of Ernest Gakwaya and Emmanuel Nkunduwimye who are suspected to have been part of Interahamwe militias in 1994.