A French court, Cour d’assises de Paris, is set begin the trial of Laurent Bucyibaruta, the former Gikongoro prefet who’s long been accused of playing a key role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. His appearance before the Parisian court, due Monday, May 9, comes more than two decades after he was briefly held in France over genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, as well as for crimes against humanity consisting of acts of extermination, murder, and rape. Available records show that Bucyibaruta, 78, fled Rwanda in 1997, and had hitherto evaded justice with French authorities not acting on several arrest warrants. In Gikongoro (present-day Nyamagabe District), where he became prefet (or governor) in July 1992 through 1994, he’s most remembered for his December 1993 hate speech at a local market in which he appealed for financial support to procure weapons to eliminate the ‘Tutsi enemy’. The ‘Butcher of Gikongoro’ is also accused of planning and directing massacres at different places, including places of worship and schools, across Gikongoro. Bucyibaruta was also an active member of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the ruling party at the time, and the head of the prefectural committee of the Interahamwe militia, the paramilitary faction of MRND mostly blamed for the Genocide. The fugitive is accused of having ordered military police, Interahamwe and armed civilians to kill the Tutsi in areas he controlled. Some of the killings he allegedly organised and directed include massacres at the parish of Cyanika and Kaduha on April 21, at Gikongoro prison on April 22, and at a girls’ school in Kibeho on May 7 – in 1994. On April 10, Bucyibaruta is said to have tricked Tutsi refugees to converge at Murambi Technical School promising them safety and food, before they were later, on April 20 and 21, killed by gendarmes and Interahamwe militia. Shortly after fleeing Rwanda in 1997, Bucyibaruta was arrested by French authorities in May 2000, but was released in December that year. His imminent trial follows several unhonoured arrest warrants issued by Rwanda and the ICTR, the UN court which eventually referred his case to the French judiciary. His trial was first announced just days after French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda on May 27, 2021, in which he sought forgiveness from Genocide survivors for his countrys “historical and political responsibility in Rwanda”. France, a close ally of the defeated genocidal regime in Kigali 28 years ago, has previously been accused of being reluctant to help bring to book Genocide fugitives on its soil. Bucyibaruta’s trial is scheduled to run through July 1.