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Genocide Trials in Rwanda: The Curious “conscience clause “of a Magistrate

This is a historic trial that opens Tuesday in Paris. Yet a few weeks ago, Aurelia Devos, record specialist and approached as co- General Counsel, threw in the towel.

Dated 3 July 1994, the image shows Hutu soldiers welcoming a detachment of the French Navy, came to visit a camp for Rwandan refugees who had fled the forces.

This is a decision as surprising as rare: on the eve of the opening in Paris of a historic trial, Liberation learned that a magistrate codésignée as General Counsel invoked the “conscience clause “to withdraw.

An even more surprising decision Aurélia Devos , Head of crimes against humanity in pole Paris prosecutor , is a young magistrate seasoned and specialized in issues to be discussed at the trial of Octavian Ngenzi and Tito Barahira two former mayors (mayors ) of Rwandan origin , refugees in France and accused of participating in the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994.

Aurelia Devos.

Despite the high number of complaints for more than twenty years in France and also to Rwandan nationals accused of crimes against humanity (under universal jurisdiction, which also applies to the French justice), trials have so far been very rare.

There has even been only one that is in 2014, Pascal Simbikangwa , former senior Rwandan secret services. During this trial Aurelia Devos already represented the Prosecutor General.

An obvious choice in view of its expertise and its knowledge of the complex Rwandan case.

So why has she decided to withdraw a two - week trial, when she was present at a preparatory meeting held on 21 March at the Paris courthouse? No official explanation was given to justify this extremely rare decision.

But some are questioning the “binomial “it was supposed to train with Advocate General Philippe Courroye, also designated to represent the prosecution in the trial expected to last more than a month (May 10 to July 1).

Killing with the help of Gun shots, use of machetes, rape, burning houses and other forms were registered during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

By Robert Muriisa.

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