Belgian court convicts ex-Rwandan official of genocide - Daily Post Uganda

Belgian court convicts ex-Rwandan official of genocide

A court in Belgium convicted a former senior Rwandan official Thursday after finding him guilty of participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Fabien Neretse, who went on trial before a court in Brussels, Belgium in November, now faces a possible life sentence.

He is the first person to be convicted in Belgium on such a charge.

The 71-year-old agricultural scientist was also convicted of “war crimes” for 11 killings in Rwanda under Belgium’s code of universal jurisdiction for the most serious offences, Belgian media reported.

It said Neretse remained passive in the dock during the sentencing.

A separate sentencing hearing will be held on Friday.

Neretse was accused of ordering the murder of 11 civilians in Kigali and two in a rural area north of the capital during the genocide, which claimed the lives of more than 1 million people, mainly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in a period of 100 days.

The court cleared him of two of the Kigali killings but found him guilty of 11 war crimes.

The prosecution told the court that Neretse had appeared at public rallies urging Hutu militias to slaughter Tutsis.

The jury accepted the account, which was based on the testimonies of multiple witnesses.

Reports show that Belgium has already held four trials and condemned eight perpetrators of the killings in Rwanda, but Neretse is reportedly the first defendant to be specifically convicted of the most grave charge of genocide.

Neretse hails from the north Rwandan district of Gakenke.

Between 1989 and 1992, he was director of the Rwanda Coffee Development Authority (OCIR-Café).

He was a member of the former ruling party MRND of the late former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

During the trial, he denied having been an active party member, insisting that he neither planned nor took part in the genocide.

He was arrested in 2011 in France, where he was living as a refugee.

Under a 1993 law, Belgian courts have universal jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity wherever they took place.

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