Paris, France – December 20, 2023
In a verdict on Wednesday, a Paris court sentenced Rwandan doctor Sosthene Munyemana, 68, to 24 years in prison for his alleged involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The judgment followed nearly 15 hours of deliberation, during which Munyemana was found guilty of charges including genocide, crimes against humanity, and participation in a conspiracy to plan these crimes. Despite denying any wrongdoing, the impassive Munyemana was immediately taken into custody. His legal team has announced plans to appeal the decision.
The six-week-long trial at the Assize Court in Paris marked a significant development, occurring almost three decades after a complaint was initially filed against Munyemana in Bordeaux, France, in 1995. The 1994 genocide, lasting 100 days, claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus who sought to protect them. Munyemana becomes the sixth individual to face trial in France for these atrocities.
At the time of the genocide, Munyemana served as a 38-year-old gynecologist in Tumba, located in Rwanda’s southern university district of Butare. Prosecutors accused him of co-signing a motion supporting the interim government overseeing the genocide and participating in local committees and meetings orchestrating the roundup of Tutsi civilians. Munyemana, a friend of Jean Kambanda, head of the interim government, admitted to participating in night patrols but claimed it was to safeguard the local population.
Witnesses, however, reported seeing Munyemana supervising operations at checkpoints during the roundup. Additionally, he faced allegations of detaining Tutsi civilians in an office under his authority and relaying instructions to the local militia and residents, contributing to the targeted violence against the Tutsis.
Munyemana arrived in France in September 1994 and had been living there until his recent retirement. Members of the Rwandan community in France initially filed a complaint against him in 1995. As diplomatic relations improved between France and Rwanda, which had long accused France of complicity in the genocide, France intensified efforts to apprehend and prosecute genocide suspects. This verdict underscores ongoing international efforts to bring individuals involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide to justice, signaling a commitment to accountability and reconciliation in the aftermath of one of the darkest chapters in modern history