Theoneste Bagosora, architect of Rwanda genocide, dies at 80

Rwanda Obit Theoneste Bagosora

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Theoneste Bagosora, a former Rwandan army colonel regarded as the architect of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed, died in a hospital in Mali on Saturday.

His son Achille Bagosora announced the death in a Facebook post: “Rest in Peace, Papa.”

Bagosora was serving a 35-year sentence after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the then-International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Bagosora, 80, had been sentenced to life in 2008 but on appeal his sentence was reduced to 35 years in prison.

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 the country.

The position made him answerable only to the president. When the president died in a plane crash, Bagosora took over the affairs of state and ordered the massacre of Tutsi, Donat Rutayisire, a genocide survivor who knew him, told The Associated Press.

Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of United Nations peacekeepers in Rwanda at the time, described Bagosora as the “kingpin” behind the genocide.