Simbikangwa’s conviction should open the floodgates to more trials

At last, after 20 years, the French public finally came to grasp the real extent of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The trial and conviction in Paris, this week, of Captain Pascal Simbikangwa, the notorious senior intelligence officer in former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime, has done just that. For many years, French authorities have looked the other way when calls to mete out justice to Rwandan Genocide suspects living within its borders rang out.  Many of the suspects felt safe in a country that had exfiltrated some of them out of Rwanda when the tide was turning against them.

At last, after 20 years, the French public finally came to grasp the real extent of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The trial and conviction in Paris, this week, of Captain Pascal Simbikangwa, the notorious senior intelligence officer in former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime, has done just that.

For many years, French authorities have looked the other way when calls to mete out justice to Rwandan Genocide suspects living within its borders rang out.  Many of the suspects felt safe in a country that had exfiltrated some of them out of Rwanda when the tide was turning against them.

Former president François Mitterrand, whose government was deeply embroiled in the Genocide and its aftermath, had give them some hope to cling on to, when, at the height of the Genocide, he had nonchalantly dismissed it. At that time, he was quoted as saying; “In such countries, Genocide is not too important”.

Now the French judiciary has debunked those unfortunate and un-statesman like remarks; Genocide matters, wherever it happens, and it is everyone’s responsibility to fight it.

Now, Simbikangwa’s  conviction should signal to other Genocide suspects peacefully strolling in the Hexagon that the honeymoon is over, the protective cover is slowly peeling off.

What remains to be seen is whether Simbikangwa’s trial and conviction is not just a bone thrown to the dogs while his masters remain untouched.

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