PARIS (PanARMENIAN.Net) — Two former Rwandan mayors went on trial Tuesday, May 10 in Paris for allegedly inciting and taking a leading part in the mass killing of ethnic Tutsis during the first days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Associated Press reports.
Tite Barahirwa, 64, and Octavien Ngenzi, 58, are both accused of genocide and crimes against humanity over the massacre of some 2,000 Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church in the eastern town of Kabarondo.
The men, who deny any involvement in the murders, face up to life in prison if convicted.
More than 100 victims, relatives and witnesses, some of whom traveled from Rwanda, are expected to testify during the eight-week Paris trial. Unusually, it is being recorded for historical purposes.
This trial is the second held in France for suspected perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, under a special U.N.-approved law allowing France universal jurisdiction for related crimes. The law came after years of efforts for justice by activist groups who say France — close to the Hutu leadership of Rwanda at the time — turned a blind eye to the slaughter and allowed perpetrators to live in France unpunished, AP says.
Barahirwa and Ngenzi were arrested separately in French territory a few years ago and have been held in custody since then.