Controversy mounts over Rwanda genocidaire’s burial

Rwandan activists have called on France not to allow the burial on its soil of a key mastermind of the…

Rwandan activists have called on France not to allow the burial on its soil of a key mastermind of the 1994 genocide, in a statement obtained Wednesday.They said they did not want the grave of Theoneste Bagosora to become a pilgrimage site for those who supported the killings of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

France is already a “shelter for many suspects of the genocide and should not become a ‘pilgrimage site’ for people nostalgic of the genocidal regime”, the activist group, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), said in a statement.

Several members of Mr Bagosora’s family live in France.

Bagosora, 80, died in Mali on Saturday where he was serving a 25-five year jail sentence for war crimes.

He was a senior figure in Rwanda’s ministry of Defence at the time of the killings.

It is not yet known where he will be buried.

Théoneste  Bagosora was the directeur de cabinet, or executive assistant, to the Minister of Defence in 1994. 

Although Bagosora retired from the Rwandan army in 1993, he continued to act in this powerful position until he fled Rwanda in July 1994.

He was arrested in Cameroon in 1996.

According  to the Amended Indictment of 12 August 1999, Colonel Bagosora developed a plan whose intent was to “exterminate” the Tutsi civilian population.  

In executing this plan, Bagosora organised, ordered and participated in massacres perpetrated against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

Bagosora was charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, and murder, rape, persecution, extermination and “inhumane  acts” as crimes against humanity (including the murder of ten Belgium UNAMIR soldiers on 7 April 1994). 

Additionally, Bagosora was charged with the killing of civilians, outrages on personal dignity and “violence to life” as serious violations of Common Article 3 (Geneva Conventions).

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges and was tried in the so-called “military case” at the ICTR alongside Gratien Kabiligi, Aloys Ntabakuze and Anatole Nsengiyumva.

The Trial Judgement was delivered on 18 December 2008. 

Bagosora was convicted of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide. complicity in genocide, and crimes against  humanity. 

He received a life sentence, which was later reduced to 35 years.