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Rwanda genocide survivor group says French verdict sends ‘strong’ message

#Rwanda #genocide #survivor #group #French #verdict #sends #strong #message

A group of survivors of the Rwandan genocide said on Wednesday they welcomed the detention in France of a former top official convicted of a role in the 1994 slaughter as a “strong” message.

Laurent Bucyibaruta was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison, the senior Rwandan to be tried in France over the massacres that left an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu dead in 100 days of bloodshed.

“This is a strong indication that France’s political will to bring about justice against genocide refugees is changing positively,” said Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of Ibuka, the Rwandan umbrella organization supporting genocide survivors.

“Survivors of genocide have little to celebrate given what they have lost, but nonetheless this conviction is an indication that truth will always prevail,” Ahishakiye told AFP, calling on other genocide refugees seeking refuge in Europe have found to face justice.

France has long been pressured by activists to take action against suspected Rwandan perpetrators who sought refuge on French soil after the massacres.

The French government was a longtime supporter of the Hutu regime in power at the time of the genocide, which has fueled tensions between the two countries for decades.

Bucyibaruta, the former prefect of southern Gikongoro Province, has been accused of tricking thousands of people into taking refuge at Murambi Technical School by promising them food, water and shelter.

Days later, in the early hours of April 21, tens of thousands of Tutsis were executed there in one of the bloodiest episodes of the genocide.

Remy Kamugire, a survivor of the Gikongoro killings who traveled to France to testify at the trial, said the 87-year-old’s sentence should have been harsher.

“Justice is welcome, but a 20-year sentence is not enough for Laurent Bucyibaruta given his huge role in the crimes of genocide committed and what we have lost as survivors.

“We lost everything,” said Kamugire, whose parents were among the victims in 1994. “After evading justice for two decades, he earned life in prison.”

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