Félicien Barigira was born in Rwanda. He was allegedly a member of the Mouvement républicain national pour le développement et la démocratie » (MRND) (National Republican Movement for Development and Democracy), a Rwandan political party which was dominated by Hutus and ruled the country during the genocide. The youth organisation of the party, the Interahamwe (meaning “those who fight together” in Kinyarwanda), was developed into a militia group that played a key role in planning and executing the Rwandan Genocide.
According to the judgment of Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of 25 February 2004 in the case of Prosecutor v. André Ntagerura, Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe, Baligira participated in at least two meetings to incite, prepare, organise and commit genocide. These meetings allegedly took place towards late 1993 and early 1994.
Furthermore, Baligira allegedly masterminded the killing of an estimated 6’000 Tutsi in the former Cyangugu Prefecture. In April 1994 the Interahamwe began attacking the refugees gathered at Mibilizi parish, armed with traditional weapons such as spears, machetes, clubs, cudgels and at least one grenade. The first attack was followed by a second one on 12 April 1994. Another attack took place on 18 April 1994 and resulted in the killing of about 100 refugees. On 20 April 1994 the Interahamwe reached once again Mibilizi parish, and killed 60 persons. On 30 April 1994 about 100 Interahamwe came to the parish, separated male and female refugees, forced the men to undress and then killed them in the courtyard, which resulted in another 60 – 80 deaths.
Between 13 and 29 April 1994, the Interahamwe attacked another parish, the Shangi parish. The most massive assault on 13 or 14 April 1994 resulted in the death of about 800 refugees. According to the statement of a witness in the trial against André Ntagerura, Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe, a total of 4’500 to 5’000 bodies were scattered all around the parish when he arrived for the burial on 30 April 1994.
After an attack on Cyangugu Cathetral on 11 April 1994, many of the refugees were transferred to Kamarampaka stadium on 15 April 1994 by provincial authorities. Tutsis and Hutu opposition members thence were selected and taken to a place called Gatandara to be killed. They were not allowed to leave the stadium and those who tried to flee were either forced to go back inside or were killed by militias who surrounded the stadium.
As the opposing and mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) advanced with its military offensive and ended the Rwandan Genocide, Baligira went to France as a refugee.
On 21 March 2011 the National Prosecutor General of Rwanda demanded Baligira’s extradition from French authorities and accused him of genocide, complicity in genocide, intent to commit genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, extermination as a crime against humanity, violation of article 3 of the Geneva conventions, and forming, joining, participating in and directing a joint criminal enterprise.
Baligira was arrested in France on 5 March 2012.
After two hearings on 7 and 15 March 2012, the Court of appeal in Rennes refused the extradition of Baligira to Rwanda on the basis of the principle nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege (no crime, no penalty without law). According to the Court’s ruling, the Rwandan criminal law did not provided for the crime of genocide and its penalties before it had been committed. Baligira was therefore set free on 16 April 2012.
On 26 May 2014, the NGO Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) filed a new lawsuit against Baligira.
In October 2019, the investigative judges dismissed the case, considering that the evidence was not sucient to support the charges. The civil party, the CPCR did not appeal the dismissal, which is now final.