France okays extradition of Genocide suspect to Rwanda

Innocent Bagabo, former teacher in Rwanda, accused of participating the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Innocent Bagabo, former teacher in Rwanda, accused of participating the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

A court in Poitiers, Western France, Thursday approved the extradition of Genocide suspect Innocent Bagabo to Rwanda for trial.

The ruling is almost two months late as it the court was originally supposed rule on the case May 12.

Innocent Bagabo, 49, a former teacher in Rukara, Eastern Province, is wanted by the Rwandan justice system for genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated in 1994.

He allegedly actively participated in the massacre during the genocide and he is facing three counts of: genocide, aiding and abetting the genocide, and committing crimes against humanity.

He currently lives in France and he has been granted French citizenship, Rwanda has been relentlessly pursuing his extraction.

The Prosecution, the Defense and the legal representatives of Rwanda submitted their written statements to the court February 10, 2015.

The prosecutor representing France requested that the Chamber refuse the extradition on the basis of a well-established case law before the Court of Cassation whereby the extradition of Rwandese perpetrators back to Rwanda is contrary to the French principle of non-retroactivity of the criminal law.

The Prosecution stressed that the criminal offense of “genocide” and its repression did not exist in the Rwandan Criminal Code of 1977 at the time of the genocide.

Prosecution also had expressed doubts regarding the credibility of the charges brought against Bagabo arguing they were politically motivated.

France and Rwanda have always had frosty relations given the former’s alleged role in the 1994 bloodshed that claimed nearly 1 million Rwandans.

Rwanda, also has always maintained France, a former ally of Rwanda’s Genocidal government of then President Juvenal Habyarimana, has since the Genocide hosted and shielded Genocide suspects.

Kigali authorities have also been furious France has ‘opted’ to releasing suspects like Dr. Charles Twagira, Claude Muhayimana and that it has refused honor requests by Kigali to pursue the prosecutions of these men.

“Finally the French are doing the right thing,” Josianne Mukamana, a Genocide survivor told this website.

Around 20 other investigations relating to the massacres are ongoing in France. One genocide suspect, Pascal Simbikangwa, was tried and convicted in Paris in March last year and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He is now appealing.

Earlier this year, the French President agreed to release the once classified archival dossier on the Genocide but this gesture did little to satisfy Kigali authorities as they felt the French had “doctored” the documents to absolve themselves of complicity.