France: Rwanda genocide convict leaves jail pending appeal

A French-Rwandan man sentenced in Paris in 2021 for complicity in genocide, has been released from prison pending his appeal.

Claude Muhayimana was released from detention on 21 December and placed under judicial supervision pending his appeal.

The former driver, who has appealed his conviction, was referred to the investigative division of the Paris Court of Appeal, which ruled on 30 November that the extension of his pre-trial detention did not appear to be “essential either for the needs of the proceedings pending the hearing, or as a security measure”.

He was released from detention on 21 December and placed under judicial supervision pending his appeal.

“I find this decision wise and particularly justified, since we have no idea when the appeal will be held,” said his lawyer Philippe Meilhac, stressing that his client had “remained free during most of the investigation, without ever posing a problem.

The 61-year-old, who became a naturalised French citizen in 2010, is accused of having transported gendarmes and Interahamwe militiamen, the armed wing of the Hutu genocidal regime, to the sites of massacres of Tutsis between April and July 1994 in Kibuye and the surrounding hills, where tens of thousands of people were killed.

In December 2021, he was found guilty by a majority of votes of complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity in the hills of Karongi, Gitwa and Bisesero over the period from 7 April to the end of June 1994, and of complicity in crimes against humanity in July in the hills of Bisesero.