Life term sought for Rwanda genocide suspect

Prosecutors want jury to declare Pascal Simbikangwa guilty of genocide, and not only of complicity, for 1994 massacres.

    French prosecutors in the trial for genocide of a former Rwandan army captain have requested life imprisonment for the defendant, in the first such case being heard by a French court.

    Pascal Simbikangwa denies the charges but prosecutor Bruno Sturlese asked the jury on Wednesday to declare him guilty of "genocide", and not only of complicity, the charge brought against him during the trial.

    A verdict is expected on Friday, within weeks of the start of commemorations of the 1994 massacres that claimed an estimated 800,000 lives, most of them from the minority Tutsi ethnic group.

    On Wednesday the prosecutor branded Simbikangwa an ethnic "cleanser" who was "radically committed" to his work, and a "man capable of the worst".

    The trial was historic in that it is the first in France dealing with the Rwandan genocide, he said.

    Rwanda repeatedly accused France of having backed the regime responsible for the massacres and of protecting those responsible.

    Rwanda last month condemned a decision by France's top appeals court to block the extradition of three genocide suspects and expressed hope they would be tried on French soil.

    The French Court of Cassation on February 26 overturned a November lower court ruling approving the extradition of Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana.

    It also upheld a September decision by another court rejecting the extradition of Laurent Serubuga, a former colonel, also wanted by Kigali over the 1994 massacres.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And AFP


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