Trial of two ex-Rwandan officials accused of war crimes and genocide begins in Brussels

Former Rwandan official, defendant Seraphin Twahirwa arrives at Brussels' courthouse, on October 9, 2023, at the start of his trial.
Former Rwandan official, defendant Seraphin Twahirwa arrives at Brussels' courthouse, on October 9, 2023, at the start of his trial. Copyright Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP
By Euronews, AFP
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This is the sixth trial in Belgium's capital linked to the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda that killed hundreds of thousands of people.


The trial of two former Rwandan officials accused of "war crimes" and "crime of genocide" committed in 1994, during the Tutsi genocide in the country, opened on Monday in Brussels.

One of the two accused, 76-year-old former Rwandan soldier and businessman Pierre Basabosé was absent in court as he's currently hospitalised. He is accused of being among the people financing the Interahamwe - a paramilitary organisation formed in 1994 by Hutu extremists - in Kigali, Rwanda's capital.

His lawyer, Jean Flamme, said that Basabosé now suffers from dementia and should not take part in the trial - a point that was dismissed in court in June but which he insists upon, having requested a new psychiatric assessment of the former Rwandan official on Monday. Flamme is representing Basabosé in court so as to allow the proceedings to go on without him.

The other person to be indicted on Monday is 65-year-old Séraphin Twahirwa, a relative of the former presidential family. Both Basabosé and Twahirwa are Belgium-based, and both have been accused of committing war crimes and genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Jean-marc Bouju/AP1994
Rwandan refugee children plead with Zairean soldiers to allow them across a bridge separating Rwanda and then-Zaire in 1994.Jean-marc Bouju/AP1994

As the second-largest shareholder of Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines in 1993, a station which was known for its calls for ethnic hatred before and during the genocide, Basabosé is accused of spreading hateful propaganda. He also allegedly distributed money and weapons to the Interahamwe and encouraged them to kill Tutsis.

Twahirwa is accused of having led an Interahamwe militia in Kigali which was responsible for dozens of murders between April and July 1994. He is also accused of a dozen rapes committed against Tutsi women.

The two were arrested in Belgium in September 2020. If found guilty, they face life imprisonment.

The hearing, the sixth of this kind to go on in Belgium, is expected to last at least two months.

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