French trial for Rwandan genocide suspect delayed to 2021

The genocide trial of a French-Rwandan former hotel driver, scheduled for September in Paris, has been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus lockdown, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.

Claude Muhayimana, formerly a driver at a hotel on Lake Kivu in western Rwanda, is accused of transporting Hutu militiamen to sites where massacres were carried out.

His trial — the third in France over the 1994 Rwandan genocide — will now take place from February 2 to 26, said the source.

Muhayimana faces charges of complicity in genocide and “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity.

The charges relate to an attack on a school and another on Tutsis seeking refuge in nearby hills.

Muhayimana fled to France after the genocide and obtained French nationality in 2010.

In 2014, he was arrested in the northern city of Rouen after a year-long investigation triggered by a complaint from the Collective of Civilian Parties for Rwanda (CPCR), which represents victims.

In the two other Rwandan genocide trials concluded in France, a former officer in the presidential guard, Pascal Simbikangwa, was given a 25-year sentence in 2014, while Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, two former mayors, received life sentences in 2016.

Under French law, any individual on French soil can be put on trial in the country.

Some 800,000 people — Tutsis but also moderate Hutus — were slaughtered by Hutu extremists over 100 days of ethnic violence in 1994.