Philippe Hategekimana

18.04.2018 ( Last modified: 19.05.2019 )
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Facts

Philippe Hategekimana, alias Biguma, is a former police officer from the Nyanza commune near Butare in southern Rwanda.

He is suspected of having participated in the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. He was allegedly involved in the organisation and commission of multiple atrocities in Nyanza and the surrounding villages in April 1994. He is suspected of the following crimes: the assassination of a Tutsi mayor, the massacre of Colline de Nyamure, where thousands of people died, and the massacre of Colline de Nyamugari. In addition, Hategekimana is alleged to have organised roadblocks, where he is said to have called for the killing of Tutsis.

After the genocide, Hategekimana fled to France and settled in Mordelles near the western city of Rennes. He obtained French citizenship and changed his name to Philippe Manier.

Shortly before his arrest in March 2018, he left France to go to Cameroon.

Legal Procedure

In June 2015, the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) filed a complaint against Hategekimana. The CPCR alleged Hategekimana’s involvement in a number of atrocities during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In September 2015, an investigation against Hategekimana was opened in the High Court of Paris.

The investigating judge from the French specialized unit for the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture within the Paris High Court, issued an international arrest warrant.

Little time before his arrest in March 2018, Hategekimana fled France for Cameroon in order to escape the French justice. He was arrested in Yaoundé, Cameroon on 30 March 2018. France has requested his extradition for the purpose of trying him before a French court.

In February 2019, Cameroon has accepted the extradition of Hategekimana to France. Hategekimana has been brought before the Parisian investigation judges on 15 February 2019 and he has been placed in pre-trial detention since.

Hategekimana has denied all accusations.

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 was to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda.93 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR.

The ICTR was dissolved on 31 December 2015.

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.