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Home UBUTABERA Bucyibaruta trial: French court hands 20-year-jail term handed to Bucyibaruta

Bucyibaruta trial: French court hands 20-year-jail term handed to Bucyibaruta

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

The French Court, The Cour d’assises de Paris on Tuesday 12, July 2022 handed a 20-year-jail sentence to Laurent Bucyibaruta, the former Gikongoro prefet after it found him guilty of charges of complicity in Genocide and Complicity to commit crimes against humanity.

He was sentenced for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in Gikongoro where he was the overall leader.

The court ordered for immediate arrest and put him into custody. He was also given 10 days to appeal against the sentence.

Bucyibaruta, 78 led Gikongoro prefecture from 1992 up to July 1994 when the Rwanda Patriotic Army took over from the genocidal government and stopped the Genocide.

  He fled Rwanda in 1997 and has since lived in France where he had found safe haven.

His trial that started on May 9, lasted two months before the court delivered a sentence.

Prosecution had also sought a life sentence for Bucyibaruta saying he was responsible for the death of thousands of Tutsi in the former Gikongoro.

He was indicted on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity, accusations he had vehemently denied.

The prosecutors Céline Viguier and Sophie Havard had sought a life imprisonment for Bucyibaruta based on his direct role in the genocide.

Nicknamed “the Butcher of Gikongoro’ Bucyibaruta was accused of masterminding the massacres of Tutsis in Murambi, Cyanika, Kaduha and Kibeho areas.

However, the Cour d’Assise de Paris cleared him of direct participation in the genocide.

Ibuka reacts

The umbrella association of the genocide survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has welcomed the sentence which comes after many years Bucyibaruta has lived freely in France.

Ibuka said however, it wished that the convict would have been handed a life senctence

 “At least after all these years moving freely in France, he was finally brought before justice but there is more to that; when a person like Bucyibaruta appears before court, there is a lot we get to know about the Genocide, how it happened and other people that may have been involved,” said Egide Nkuranga, Ibuka president told The New Times.

He was not immediately available for a direct comment with our media outlet.

Nkuranga also pointed out that their wish would have been life sentence which he said sets a precedent on similar cases tried outside Rwanda because many people outside the country do not know much about the Genocide or the magnitude of the crime of Genocide.

“A life sentence would as well contribute significantly to silencing Genocide deniers because it would give us a good reference to counter them.”

The court cleared Bucyibaruta on all charges related to genocide that happened in Kibeho. The prosecution had accused him of his role on the death of over 28,000 people.

During the Genocide, Interahamwe stormed Gikongoro prison picked out Tutsi prisoners and brutally massacred them. Prosecution had pinned the killings on Bucyibaruta but the court cleared him on that too.

Bucyibaruta, the prosecution said attended several meeting and appeared on several roadblocks where Tutsis were being killed. The French court found him guilty for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.

He however was also found guilty of complicity in the Genocide and crimes against humanity that happened at  Ecole marie Merci where Tutsi children were massacred from.

Other massacres where court found him to have conspired in execution included the killings that happened in Murambi, Cyanika and Kaduha

About Bucyibaruta

Born in 1944 in the former Gikongoro prefecture Bucyibaruta became the prefet of his home prefecture on July 04, 1992 and held the position until July 1994.

 He participated as an activist in the MRND genocidal party and the head of the prefectural committee of the Interahamwe movement, the youth organization that executed the genocide.

In December 1993, during a public rally at Gikongoro market, he made a speech in which he encouraged financial contributions from the population in order to buy arms to fight the “Tutsi enemy”.

Bucyibaruta further ordered, on several occasions, soldiers and Interahamwe militia in his command to commit several massacres against the Tutsis.

Additionally, on April 10, 1994, Bucyibaruta encouraged many Tutsi to go to the Murambi Technical School where they were promised food. However, the Tutsis who gathered in the school were killed on April 20th and 21st 1994 by gendarmes, policemen and armed interahamwe. Over 50,000 were killed from the school.

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