Rwandan Militia Leader Receives Life Sentence in Belgian Court for 1994 Genocide

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read
Court

A Belgian court sentenced Seraphin Twarhirwa, a former Rwandan militia leader, to life imprisonment for his role in numerous murders and rapes committed during the 1994 genocide. The 66-year-old was convicted of direct participation in, or oversight of, atrocities perpetrated by the Hutu Interahamwe militiamen in Kigali, contributing to the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus three decades ago.

A second defendant, Pierre Basabose, a former close associate of ex-President Juvenal Habyarimana, was also found guilty of “genocide” and “war crimes” for funding the militia. However, due to the 76-year-old’s incurable senile dementia, he was not sentenced to jail on grounds of health.

Both individuals were arrested in Belgium in 2020, where they had been living in exile. This trial marked the sixth held in Belgium regarding the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Belgium, having ruled over what is now modern-day Rwanda during the colonial period, maintains a substantial Rwandan diaspora.

The 1994 genocide, triggered by the downing of Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over 100 days.

The recent sentencing in Belgium follows a separate ruling in France on Wednesday, where former doctor Sosthene Munyemana received a 24-year jail term for his involvement in the genocide.

Throughout the two-month trial, both Twarhirwa and Basabose contested the accusations. Lawyers for the defendants have announced their intention to appeal the verdict.

Michele Hirsch, a lawyer representing the relatives of the victims, expressed satisfaction with the guilty verdict handed down by the court.

Soukana Sghir

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