Germany charges former Rwandan mayor with genocide for alleged involvement in 1994 killings

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Germany charges ex-Rwandan mayor with genocide

BERLIN — A former Rwandan mayor living in Germany has been charged for allegedly organizing massacres and inciting killings during the African country’s 1994 genocide, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 53-year-old, identified only as Onesphore R., was charged with genocide and murder as well as inciting those crimes, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

The man was the mayor of a district in northern Rwanda at the time of the killings, the prosecutors said, without identifying the district.

At least 500,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide.

The prosecutors allege that the former mayor, a Hutu, called for pogroms against the Tutsi minority on three occasions in early April 1994.

They said he forced a local official to throw out Tutsis who had taken refuge in his house, threatening that the official’s family would be killed otherwise.

Prosecutors asserted that the man ordered and coordinated three massacres between April 11 and 15, 1994, in which at least 3,730 Tutsis were killed — some of whom had sought shelter in church buildings against marauding soldiers, police, militia members and civilians.

The man was held in custody in Germany from December 2008 to May 2009, when a federal court ordered his release on grounds that the evidence presented at the time wasn’t sufficient to keep him behind bars pending charges, prosecutors said.

However, he was arrested again on July 26 following “intensive further investigation,” they added.

The charges were filed at a court in Frankfurt on July 29. It wasn’t immediately clear when a trial might start.

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