Rwanda genocide suspect wanted in France held in Cameroon

File, AFP
File, AFP

A former Rwandan policeman has been arrested in Cameroon on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a judicial source in France, where he is wanted over the killings, told AFP.

Philippe Hategekimana was arrested in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, on March 30 under an international warrant issued by French magistrates specialising in crimes against humanity.

France is expected to request his extradition to face charges of organising and participating in multiple atrocities in southern Rwanda in April 1994, including the assassination of a mayor.

France, which had initially dragged its heels on prosecuting suspected perpetrators of the genocide of about 800 000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, has picked up the pace in recent years.

The first French trial over the genocide was in 2014 when former Rwandan spy chief Pascal Simbikangwa was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity.

Two years later, a Paris court sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for their participation in a massacre at a church, where some 2 000 people seeking refuge were bludgeoned and hacked to death.

All three men were arrested in France.

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Hategekimana also fled to France after the genocide, settling in the western city of Rennes where he changed his name to Philippe Manier and obtained French citizenship.

But he recently left for Cameroon.

The investigation against him was opened in Paris in September 2015 after a complaint from the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR), a group set up by a Rwandan-born relative of genocide victims and her husband.

The genocide has caused two decades of tension between France and Rwanda, with the latter accusing Paris of complicity in the killings through its support and military training for the ethnic Hutu forces who carried out most of the slaughter.

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