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Rwanda ex-spy chief jailed in France

Undated picture released by Interpol shows Pascal Simbikangwa in 2008Pascal Simbikangwa lived under an alias on the French Indian Ocean island

A French court has jailed former Rwandan spy chief Pascal Simbikangwa for 25 years over the 1994 genocide.

In a landmark trial, Simbikangwa was found guilty of complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity.

It was not immediately clear whether his lawyers would appeal.

Simbikangwa, 54, who is paraplegic after a car crash, was arrested in 2008 while living under an alias on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte.

He is the first man to be convicted in France in connection with the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago.

Some 800,000 people – mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus – were killed over a period of about 100 days.

He had denied the charges against him.

Prosecutors had asked for life imprisonment for Simbikangwa, branding him an ethnic “cleanser” who was radically committed to his work and a “man capable of the worst”.

Simbikangwa’s lawyers said the trial was politically motivated and described witnesses as unreliable and guided by spite.

The former spy chief was tried under French legislation that allows universal jurisdiction for genocide and other heinous crimes committed by foreigners abroad.

France – a former colonial power in Africa which had strong ties to the Hutu government – has long been accused of failing to rein in the Rwandan regime at the time of the genocide.

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