Tito Barahira

18.04.2016 ( Last modified: 15.08.2018 )
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facts

Tito Barahira, was a mayor of Kabarondo Commune in Rwanda from 1977 to 1986. He held this position until Octavien Ngenzi replaced him.

During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Barahira was the Director of Electrogaz in Kabarondo, which is a company that was granted monopoly for the production and distribution of water and electricity in Rwanda in 1976. He was also the Chairman of the ruling party at commune level called the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND).

Barahira was suspected to have collaborated with military leadership in Kabarondo to kill the Tutsi, in the period between April and July 1994.

As chairman of MRND, it was suspected that he chaired and participated in the meetings where plans of the extermination of Tutsis were designed. Together with Ngenzi, who was the mayor at the time of the 1994 genocide, Barahira was suspected of using his influence to lead people to massacre the Tutsi.

In April 1994, Barahira allegedly organised and led a group of Interahamwe militia armed with machetes to the Kabarondo Church. He allegedly participated in the killing of Tutsi who had taken refuge in the church.

He was also suspected of participating in the attack that killed the Tutsi of Rugenge and Nyakabungo sectors, and personally ordered the killing of an old woman – Josephine Mukaruhigira.

 

legal procedure

The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) in Rwanda indicted Barahira in October 2010 for his alleged participation in the genocide and for incitement to commit acts of genocide.

On 28 March 2011, the “Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda” (Rwandan Plaintiff Collective) filed a complaint with a civil action against Barahira for his alleged implication in the slaughters of 1994. On 5 April 2012, the cases of Ngenzi and Barahira were joined.

Barahira was arrested on 3 April 2013 in Toulouse, and detained in Fresnes (Paris). The Rwandan authorities requested his extradition but the French authorities refused to allow it.

On 30 May 2014, the judges issued an indictment against Barahira and Ngenzi. They are 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 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: Tito Barahira
Nationality: Rwanda
Context: Rwanda
Charges: Crimes against humanity, genocide
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment; confirmed on appeal
Judgement Place: France
Particulars: Condemned to life imprisonment on 6 July 2016, by the Paris Criminal Court. Appeal hearings began on 2 May 2018. His sentence was confirmed on appeal on 6 July 2018.