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Germany court begins genocide trial of former Rwanda mayor

The Frankfurt High Regional Court on Tuesday began the trial of a former Rwandan mayor on genocide charges relating to his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Onesphore Rwabukombe [Trial Watch profile], a 54-year-old ethnic Hutu, allegedly coordinated three massacres [AFP report] in which more than 3,700 Tutsis, who had sought refuge in a church, were killed. Rwabukombe, who was mayor of Muvumba in northern Rwanda at the time of the killings, is also accused of ordering a local official to turn away Tutsi refugees seeking shelter in his home, resulting in at least one of the refugees being killed. Rwabukombe was arrested and charges were filed in Frankfurt [JURIST report] in July. This is Germany's first Rwanda genocide trial. If convicted, Rwabukombe faces life in prison.

In addition to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] and trials before Rwandan courts, several European countries have utilized their legal systems [AFP report] to try suspects accused of crimes related to the Rwandan genocide. In June, a Finnish court convicted former Rwandan pastor [JURIST report] Francois Bazaramba on charges of genocide and murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Canadian prosecutors announced in November that a second suspect had been charged [JURIST report] under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF]. The first man charged under the act was Desire Munyaneza. In October, he was sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza was convicted [JURIST report] in May 2009 of seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes under the act.

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