Simbikangwa trial: Is France finally closing in on the génocidaires?

Editor, REFERENCE IS made to the article, “French court hands 25-year sentence to Simbikangwa for Genocide” (The New Times, March 15).
A cartoon depicting Pascal Simbikangwa bragging about his crimes.
A cartoon depicting Pascal Simbikangwa bragging about his crimes.

Editor,

REFERENCE IS made to the article, “French court hands 25-year sentence to Simbikangwa for Genocide” (The New Times, March 15).

I wish to pay tribute to Dafroza and Alain Gauthier and their associates in the titanic combat that has seen the impossible verdict of “guilty” of a suspect in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi being returned in a French court.

As Alain has written, there is no guarantee of success in such a fight, but you have already failed if you don’t try at all. The 25-year sentence is of course a mere slap on the wrist for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Paul Touvier and Klaus Barbie got life sentences for similar crimes.

It would also have been much better if Pascal Simbikangwa, like many other even more senior genocidal suspects, were sent back home for trial before the people he committed his genocidal crimes against. It would be equally more just to send him there to serve his sentence. But we know that to be a mere pipedream.

Am I also the only one who sees a huge glaring contradiction in not only this verdict but also in the fact the trial has taken place in the first place? If, as France’s Cour de Cassation – the country’s highest appellate court – has refused to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda (three times) on the surreal grounds that “genocide wasn’t a crime in Rwanda when the suspects committed the acts for which extradition was sought”, then on what basis did Simbikangwa’s trial for genocide take place?

It is clear a serious gulf has now developed between France’s lower courts – which recognise a crime when the evidence is presented to them (which prosecutors have rarely done in the case of the worst Rwandan génocidaires on French territory) – and the more political Cour de Cassation, which is clearly and brazenly applying political and other non-juridical criteria to cases involving those génocidaires whose trial, especially outside French control, might expose France’s own active role in the Genocide.

I wonder though how that same Cour de Cassation will decide when Simbikangwa’s case eventually land in their docket. After all there is little chance that he will ever leave French jurisdiction.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda

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AN ELITE person who was at the heart of power center of planning and execution of such grave crime; the perpetrator of genocide; and a man who throughout the court proceedings never showed any remorse – Simbikangwa should have been convicted to life sentence. 

However, I do respect the law and thus congratulate France’s hand in this act. France should be seen to be law-abiding nation and go after the multitude of Genocide suspects in the country.

Kato, Rwanda

 

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