BAMAKO (Reuters) – A former Rwandan army colonel accused of organizing the massacre of 800,000 people in the 1994 genocide has died in prison in Mali, Malian officials said on Saturday.
Theoneste Bagosora was serving a 35-year sentence after being convicted of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). His sentence had been reduced from life imprisonment.
“It’s confirmed. He was over 80, he was seriously ill, with heart problems. He was hospitalized several times and had three surgeries. He died today in a clinic,” he told Reuters a source from the Malian prison administration who requested anonymity. .
A second source at the Bamako Court of Appeal confirmed the death.
Prosecutors accused Bagosora, then chief of staff at the defense ministry, of taking control of military and political affairs in the central African country after President Juvénal Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down in 1994.
The Tanzania-based court accused Bagosora of being in charge of Interahamwe Hutu troops and militias who killed some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.
Canadian General Roméo Dallaire, head of the United Nations peacekeepers during the genocide, described Bagosora as the “backbone” behind the killings and said the former colonel threatened to kill him.
(This story corrects a typo in the title.)
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; written by George Obulutsa, edited by Timothy Heritage)