Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

France Arrests Doctor Accused in Rwanda Genocide

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

France Arrests Doctor Accused in Rwanda Genocide

Article excerpt

On Wednesday France arrested a Hutu doctor wanted at home on charges of involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Analysts say it may demonstrate a French shift in how it handles Rwandan exiles facing war crimes charges.

In a move that may demonstrate a shift in how France handles Rwandan exiles facing war crimes charges, French police yesterday arrested a Hutu in connection with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The arrest of Sosthene Munyemana was made at the request of Rwanda, which is seeking his extradition on war crimes charges. Mr. Munyemana, a prominent Hutu doctor from Rwanda's second largest city of Butare has lived in France since 1994 and had sought asylum there but was turned down last year. He was freed on bail shortly after his arrest Wednesday, pending a court appearance.

The French have temporized in recent years on how to deal with several dozen prominent Hutu officials who were given refuge in France after the Rwandan genocide and have since been accused by Rwanda and international investigators of involvement in the killing of 800,000 Hutus and Tutsis in 1994. Mr. Munyemana has been living in Bordeaux and working in the emergency room at the Saint-Cyr de Villeneuve hospital, where he was arrested. He has steadily denied the charges against him.

The arrest follows a recent easing of tensions between the French and Rwandan governments and precedes a visit to Kigali scheduled for February by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"This sends a signal that whatever is being agreed to between the French and [President Paul] Kagame, dealing with genocidaires is near the top of the list," says Andrew Wallis, an expert on Rwanda at Cambridge University in the UK. "Rwanda wants France to arrest dozens of genocidaires that are thumbing their noses at the Kagama government and the survivors and who now earn a good living in France."

Munyemana has been described in the UN and other post-genocide investigations as a close protege and ideological partner of Hutu power leader Jean Kambanda, who pled guilty to a genocide charge at the Rwandan War Crimes Tribunal in Tanzania.

"Clad in a long black coat, armed with a machete, or an iron bar shaped like a pipe, a sword or a gun, he wore banana leaves to motivate peasants," a 2007 African Rights report said of Munyemana, citing eyewitnesses. …

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