Rwanda—Théoneste Bagosora, a former Rwandese military officer, was chiefly known for his key role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus were killed, has died in a Malian hospital aged 80.
Bagosora was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Internal Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In 2011, the sentence was reduced to 35 years imprisonment on appeal.
His son Achille Bagosora announced his death in a Facebook post: “Rest in Peace, Papa.”
Known as a hardliner within the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development party of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Bagosora in 1993 was appointed cabinet director in the defense ministry and took control of military and political affairs in Rwanda.
The massacre began after a plane carrying Rwanda’s then-President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down on 6 April 1994, killing everyone on board.
Bagosora was arrested two years later in Cameroon, where he fled to after Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power.
At his trial, Basogora maintained he was a victim of propaganda by Rwanda’s current Tutsi-dominated government.
Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of United Nations peacekeepers in Rwanda at the time, described Bagosora as the ‘kingpin’ behind the genocide.
After the genocide, Bagosora fled to Cameroon. He was arrested there in 1996 and flown to face –trial in Arusha Tanzania, in 1997. His trial began in 2002 and lasted until 2007.
Bagosora was found guilty in connection with the killing of 10 Belgian peacemakers and was responsible for the deaths of the Rwandan prime minister and head of the constitutional court. He was also found responsible for organized killings of Tutsi at numerous sites in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, and in Gisenyi in the west of the country.
Reacting to the news of Bagosora’s death, Rwanda’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Oliver Nduhungirehe, said Bagosora didn’t have remorse for his crimes.
“The main reasons against Bagosora’s request for early release were that he never accepted responsibly for genocide, showing no sign of remorse or regret: and that he was a man with a forceful personality who at times is unable to control himself.” Nduhungirehe’s Twitter post read.