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Rwanda genocide: trial resumes in Brussels with only one of the two accused

Rwanda genocide: trial resumes in Brussels with only one of the two accused
Former Rwandan official, defendant Seraphin Twahirwa arrives at Brussels' courthouse,   -  
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The trial of two alleged Rwandan genocide perpetrators resumed in Brussels on Wednesday in the absence of one of them, a 76-year-old man who is unwell and must remain in hospital "for at least another fortnight", said the president of the assize court.

She added that the hearing could continue because his lawyer had agreed to represent him.

This is the sixth assize trial in Belgium relating to the Tutsi genocide perpetrated in Rwanda between April and July 1994.

Pierre Basabosé, aged 76, and Séraphin Twahirwa, aged 65, two Rwandans close to the former presidential couple Habyarimana who found refuge in Belgium, are charged with "war crimes" and "genocide". The trial is due to last until early December.

On Monday, the hearing was suspended after a few hours, on the very first day, after it was established that Pierre Basabosé, who had been hospitalised in Brussels since last Friday, was not present.

The presiding judge had ordered a medical examination of the septuagenarian to determine whether he was fit to take part in the trial.

Mr Basabosé has been suffering from "dementia disorders" for several years and "from a neuropsychiatric point of view, his condition seems to have deteriorated further" since the last assessment in 2021, according to the medical report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

He is suffering from partial amnesia, "information processing disorders (...) and some spatial and temporal disorientation", states the text signed by a psychiatrist.

Mr Basabosé has also been admitted to hospital with a skin infection, probably as a result of his diabetes, and needs hospital care "for at least another fortnight", it adds."I will represent him throughout this time," his lawyer, Jean Flamme, told AFP. The trial is due to get down to business on Thursday with the questioning of Séraphin Twahirwa.

Twahirwa is accused of having led an Interahamwe militia (Hutu extremists) in Kigali that was responsible for dozens of murders between April and July 1994. He is also accused of a dozen rapes of Tutsi women.

For his part, Pierre Basabosé, a former soldier turned wealthy businessman, is accused of having supplied Twahirwa's men with money and weapons. A former member of the presidential guard in the 1970s, Basabosé was also a shareholder in Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, infamous for broadcasting calls to kill Tutsis during the genocide.

According to the UN, between April and July 1994, at least 800,000 people died in the genocide, mainly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.

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