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Ex-Rwanda captain appeals sentence in France

19 March 2014, 10:44

Paris - Pascal Simbikangwa, the first Rwandan to be tried in France over his role in the devastating 1994 genocide, has appealed his 25-year prison sentence, his lawyers said on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old former army captain was sentenced on Friday after a landmark six-week trial that was closely watched in France, which was accused of failing to rein in the Rwandan regime at the time of the genocide that left 800 000 dead.

Lawyers Fabrice Epstein and Alexandra Bourgeot told AFP they had made the appeal on Tuesday on behalf of their client - who was found guilty of perpetrating genocide and of complicity in crimes against humanity.

During the trial, which took place just weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of the genocide, both had denounced what they said were unreliable witness accounts and had slammed the court case as politically motivated.

Prosecutors have also appealed the court decision, seeking a heavier sentence, judicial sources said.

The defence had called for Simbikangwa to be acquitted, while prosecutors asked for life in prison.

Simbikangwa, who is in a wheelchair after a 1986 car accident left him paraplegic, was accused of inciting, organising and aiding massacres during the genocide.

He has always denied charges against him, saying he never saw one single corpse during the 100 days of genocide that largely targeted the minority Tutsis.



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