Former Chief Justice Mutsinzi is dead

Justice Jean Mutsinzi died Thursday morning at King Faisal Hospital. He was 81.

The first post-Genocide Chief Justice, Jean Mutsinzi died Thursday morning at King Faisal Hospital after a short illness.

This has been confirmed by family sources, who said he was admitted at the Kigali-based hospital two days ago after he developed some unspecified complications. He was 81.


Mutsinzi, an accomplished lawyer led the country’s judiciary during the most difficult period, in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.


During the time, tens of thousands were in prison for their role in the Genocide, with so few court officers to expend the much-needed justice for the survivors of the Genocide.

Judges, prosecutors and lawyers either were dead, in prison for Genocide or had fled the country.

After serving his term, Mutsinzi went on to become a judge at the African Court for Human and People’s Rights, which he would later serve as President for a two-year term.

Mutsinzi is also remembered for his work as the head of an independent commission of experts that probed the shooting down of the plane that carried former President Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994.

The probe team that was prominently known as Mutsinzi Commission was given a mandate of through a prime ministerial decree to “establish the truth regarding the circumstances of the crash of the Falcon-50 airplane, registration number 9XR-NN on April 6, 1994.”

It was instituted in 2007 and presented their report in 2009, having interviewed close to 600 witnesses who either observed what happened or had information directly related to the attack on the plane.

The Mutsinzi commission, which also brought in ballistics and other experts from the United Kingdom, concluded that the attack was an inside job and the analysis established that the missile that downed the plane clearly came from the defence positions of the Ex-FAR – the former government forces.

These findings were later corroborated by another enquiry by French judges, French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux.

Both the Mutsinzi and Trévidic findings punched holes in allegations made by another French judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, claiming that the Rwanda Patriotic Army fighters hard a role in the shooting of the plane.


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