71-year-old Fabien Neretse has been charged with 13 murders which took place between April and July of 1994.
Seventy-one-year-old Fabien Neretse, a former senior Rwandan official, appeared in a Brussels court in Belgium yesterday. He is currently on trial for his alleged involvement in 13 murders which occurred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to News24, this is the first time a Belgian case has explicitly charged Neretse with genocide.
Back in 2011, Neretse was arrested by the French but was not placed in detention. He continues to proclaim his innocence till this day. Yesterday's proceedings, however, focused on the selection of the jury and thus Neretse has not appeared in the dock as yet. The first hearing is set to take place this Thursday.
In 1994, Rwanda experienced a genocide that was a result of ethnic cleansing. The Hutu people, who were the ethnic majority at the time, murdered at least 800 000 Tutsi people, an ethnic minority. Following the Hutu revolution in 1959, thousands of Tutsis fled the country and left behind an even smaller minority. The murders were carried out by Hutu nationalists and extremists initially in the capital of Kigali and then spread to the rest of the country.
A Belgian citizen named Claire Beckers, who was a shopkeeper in Kigali, was murdered in April of the genocide along with her husband Isaïe Bucyana (a Tutsi) and their daughter Katia Bucyana. Beckers' sister, Martine Beckers, was the one who lodged a complaint with Belgian prosecutors who now believe that Neretse was a leader in the area and directed the mass murders of Tutsis residing there.
Interestingly enough, Belgium was the colonizer of Rwanda and is held partially responsible by some for stoking ethnic tensions. The country's 1993 law allows the country to exercise universal jurisdiction with regards to prosecuting individuals who participated in genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity.