Monday, October 18, 2021

Rwandan genocide mastermind Charles Anastase Bagosora dies at 80

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Image copyright BBC Image caption Bagosora served as a chief of staff under then President Juvenal Habyarimana before leading the Hutu extremists in the killings in 1994

Senior Rwandan military officer and former genocide mastermind Charles Anastase Bagosora, 80, has died at his home in Kigali.

Bagosora served as chief of staff under president Juvenal Habyarimana, who was assassinated by extremist Hutu rebels in April 1994.

He was subsequently convicted and jailed for 70 years in 2008 for the genocide and war crimes against humanity.

Bagosora had served as Rwanda’s deputy military commander, and was one of the most senior of the commanders.

His supporters claimed he was a victim of political persecution, but his conviction under domestic and international law is accepted by many.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Bagosora was accused of slaughtering Tutsis at villages across Rwanda in 1994

“This judgment is a justice free Rwanda,” Bagosora’s eldest son, Charles Anastase Bagosora Junior, told Radio Okapi.

After Habyarimana’s death, Bagosora was accused of overseeing the slaughter of Tutsis across Rwanda, drawing accusations that he was behind the mass killing of almost 800,000 men, women and children between April and July 1994.

Bagosora was jailed in 2008 and lived in solitary confinement after he challenged the decision in two Rwandan courts.

He was the highest-ranking officer to be jailed in connection with the genocide.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The former chief of staff was arrested in 2003 in Germany and sent back to Rwanda

During his trial, Bagosora maintained his innocence and criticised the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – which was set up by the international community after the genocide to try Hutu perpetrators of the killings.

After his release in 2017, he was offered free housing and pension but preferred to remain in Kigali, people familiar with the deal said.

He was also tried by the international criminal court (ICC) but was acquitted of all charges.

He had been arrested in 2003 in Germany and later sent back to Rwanda.

Bagosora’s predecessor, Hayimana, was killed in a plane crash on 9 April 1994.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Bagosora and Anastase Mugabe – son of ousted president Robert Mugabe – founded the Fourth Brigade following the Rwanda genocide

Bagosora and other close aides who helped to organise the massacres were arrested and charged, but their cases ended up in the hands of the international courts.

The father of President Paul Kagame became Rwanda’s president, having worked closely with him since he was a rebel leader who overthrew his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana in 2001.

Mr Kagame came to power with the help of a rebel army after two decades of international mediation following the genocide.

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