Sosthene Munyemana, a former doctor from Rwanda, has recently gone on trial in France, facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The case, which dates back to 1995, was filed in Bordeaux a year after the Rwandan genocide.
Munyemana, who has been residing in France since 1994, stands accused of orchestrating torture and killings during the genocide. The trial comes after a lengthy legal process, with French prosecutors taking 28 years to bring the case to court.
The hearing, scheduled to begin at 9:00 am, was delayed as the 68-year-old former doctor accused of organising torture and killings during the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda arrived late. Munyemana, dressed in a blue striped shirt and a grey jacket, apologised for the delay and then proceeded to state his identity. He has been living in France since 1994.
At the time of the genocide in 1994, Munyemana, then a 29-year-old gynecologist, lived in the south of Rwanda. One of the key elements in the trial revolves around an office in Tumba, with Munyemana admitting to having the key. He claims that individuals from the Tutsi population sought refuge in the office, asserting that he worked to prevent the genocide.
However, prosecutors argue that Munyemana locked people inside the office in inhumane conditions before they were ultimately taken away to be killed. One thing both sides agree on is that it is unacceptable that it has taken so many years for this case to come to court.
In 2008, Munyemana, who had worked in a hospital at Villeneuve-sur-Lot in southwest France for ten years, had his asylum request rejected by France. However, in 2010, it rejected an extradition request from Rwanda after Munyemana’s lawyers presented arguments stating that he would not receive a fair trial in that country. In 2011, a French court charged a father of three with suspicion of his involvement in the 1994 genocide.
Mr Munyemana, who denies the charges, faces life in prison if convicted. The trial is expected to shed light on the events surrounding the alleged atrocities and Munyemana’s role during a dark chapter in Rwandan history.