Octavien Ngenzi

15.04.2016 ( Last modified: 15.08.2018 )
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facts

Octavien Ngenzi was born in 1954 in Rwanda. In 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide, Ngenzi was mayor of the Kabarondo district in the East of the country, and he was the local leader of the former political party, the “National Republican Movement for Development and Democracy” (MNRD).

In 2009, Kigali issued an international arrest warrant against Ngenzi, who was suspected of having ordered and headed several massacres in the Kibungo province. Most notably, Ngenzi allegedly participated to the massacre of the Kabarondo church on 13 April 1994, where close to one thousand Tutsis were murdered by Hutu militia. He allegedly organised and lead the Interahamwe milicia, armed with machetes, toward the Kabarondo church.

legal procedure

In April 2009, the Rwandan authorities issued an international arrest warrant against Ngenzi for his involvement in several slaughters of Tutsis in Kibungo province.

On 2 June 2010, the “Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda” (an association for the protection of victims of the Rwandan Genocide), filed a complaint against Octavien Ngenzi to the Public Prosecutor’s department of Mamoudzou (the capital of Mayotte).

On 3 June 2010, Ngenzi was arrested and detained in Mayotte. He was subsequently transferred to the Fleury-Mérogis prison, Paris, where his detention was extended.

The extradition request made by the Rwandan authorities in 2009 was rejected by the French judiciary on 27 April 2011.

On 5 April 2012, the Barahira and Ngenzi cases where joined.

On 30 May 2014, the judges issued an indictment against Barahira and Ngenzi. They were charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. Beginning of June 2014, they appealed this decision, contesting the indictment. On 28 January 2015, the French Supreme court (Cour de Cassation) confirmed the indictment against Barahira and Ngenzi for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Nine civil parties joined the case.

Their trial took place from 10 May to 1st July 2016 before the Paris criminal Court. On 6 July 2016, Baharira and Ngenzi were found guilty and condemned to a life sentence. Their lawyers announced on 8 July 2016 that Baharira and Ngenzi would appeal the decision.

On 15 November 2017, the parties were informed that the appeal trial is scheduled to take place from 2 May to 6 July 2018 before the Paris Criminal Court (Cour d’Assises de Paris).

The appeal hearings of the two accused began on 2 May 2018. Their defence sought to overturn their initial genocide verdict.

On 6 July 2018, the Paris appeal criminal Court confirmed the life sentence held in the first instance judgement.

Highlights

For the first time, and unlike Pascal Simbikangwa case, victims or relatives of victims will appear in the court, since nine of them have joined the case against Barahira and Ngenzi as plaintiffs.

context

Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA (ICTR)

In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. Since its inception, 92 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR. Some proceedings are however still ongoing.

The ICTR is primed to close down in 2015.

Regarding what will happen to the functions and activities that will outlive the ICTR, the UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.

THE GACACA COURTS

In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.

Fact Sheet
Name: Octavien Ngenzi
Nationality: Rwanda
Context: Rwanda
Charges: Genocide; crimes against humanity
Status: Convicted to life imprisonment on genocide charges; confirmed on appeal.
Judgement Place: France
Particulars: His trial took place from 10 May to 1st July 2016 before the Paris criminal Court. Ngenzi was found guilty of genocide and condemned to a life imprisonment. This sentence was confirmed on appeal on 6 July 2018.