In Brussels, the defense had the floor on Thursday in the trial of the two suspected Rwandan genocide perpetrators. The final plea of Pierre Basabose’s lawyer, a former merchant accused of assisting in establishing and supporting an Interahamwe militia led by co-defendant Séraphin Twahirwa in the Gikondo district of Kigali in 1994, was primarily heard.
He is charged with war crimes and genocide. His lawyer pleaded for acquittal. The defense for Pierre Basabose denounces a trial purely driven by politics. “The government of Paul Kagame has made the persecution of Hutus abroad one of its priorities,” declares Attorney Jean Flamme, accusing the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office of “blindly following Kigali in Victor’s justice.”
He then unfolds a defense with revisionist undertones, contested multiple times as such by the civil parties during the trial, eliciting disapproving murmurs in the courtroom. His client, who operated a currency exchange in Rwanda in the 1990s, is portrayed by the prosecution as a shadowy figure, a member of the “zero network” of Hutu extremists who ensured that the Gikondo militia lacked nothing. “But who witnessed this?” asks the lawyer, citing numerous witnesses who did not speak about his client or claimed not to have seen him in action.
He also emphasizes the mental health of Pierre Basabose, who, at 76, suffers from dementia, according to experts, and mentions the suspension of similar charges against another alleged genocide perpetrator, Félicien Kabuga.