Rwanda genocide 'kingpin' dies in Mali prison

Theoneste Bagosora was serving a 35-year sentence for the deaths of 800,000 people in 1994

Former army colonel Theoneste Bagosora, right, arrives in court on December 18, 2008, before being convicted on charges of genocide. Photo: AFP
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Former Rwandan army colonel Theoneste Bagosora who was accused of masterminding the slaughter of 800,000 people during the 1994 genocide has died in prison in Mali, officials there said on Saturday.

“It is confirmed. He was over 80 years old, he was seriously ill, with heart troubles. He was hospitalised several times and had three surgeries. He died today in a clinic,” a source in Mali's prison administration, speaking anonymously, told Reuters.

A second source at Bamako's Court of Appeal confirmed the death.

Bagosora was serving a 35-year sentence after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

His sentence had been reduced from life in prison.

Prosecutors accused Bagosora, then cabinet director in the defence ministry, of taking control of military and political affairs in the central African country after the president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was killed when his plane was shot down in 1994.

The Tanzania-based tribunal accused Bagosora of being in charge of the troops and Interahamwe Hutu militia who killed about 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, head of UN peacekeepers during the genocide, described Bagosora as the “kingpin” behind the killings and said the former colonel had threatened to kill him.

Earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he recognised his country's heavy responsibility for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In a speech during a visit to the African country, Mr Macron detailed how France had failed the 800,000 victims but did not give an apology.

France “was not an accomplice” in the killings but ended up siding with Rwanda's “genocidal regime” and bore an “overwhelming responsibility” in the run-up to the massacres, he said at the genocide memorial in the capital, Kigali.

Updated: September 26, 2021, 6:26 AM