Théoneste Bagosora officially entered the Rwandan Army reserve with the rank of colonel on September 23, 1993. However, he remained as Director of the Defense Minister’s Cabinet until July 14, 1994, the day he fled from Kigali to Goma. , before disappearing until his arrest a year and a half later. This chronological precision is essential to understand its implication in the gestation and subsequent implementation of the 1994 genocide. An implication that would not have been possible had it not been part, since the early nineties, of the ‘Akazu’, the circle of power that He surrounded President Juvenal Habyarimana and his wife, the first lady Agathe Kanziga, a reference to the most radical wing of the regime. All its members belonged to the Hutu ethnic group. The growing tension between the latter and the Tutsis led as early as 1992 – with the active participation of Bagosora – of a “civil self-defense” plan aimed at intensifying the harassment of the rival ethnic group. The civil confrontation was already inevitable.
So oiled was the plan that on the night of April 6-7, 1994, minutes after the Habyarimana assassination, Bagorosa successfully opposed the assumption of power by Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, as suggested by the United Nations. . Bogosa did not stop at bars: on the morning of the 7th he prevented Uwilingiyimana from broadcasting a radio message asking the population to calm down. He then ordered her assassination. He also reserved the same fate for ten Belgian blue helmets: some were beaten with machetes and others were executed by a platoon. It was his way of inviting the United Nations to leave Rwanda. Thus, he inspired – without leading it – the “interim government”, in charge of unleashing a genocide that resulted in a balance, in just one hundred days, of 800,000 deaths.
The vast majority were, of course, Tutsis, although the victims belonging to the moderate sector of the Hutus cannot be ignored either. Important fact, as a declassified note from the Dgse, acronym for the French foreign intelligence agency, points to Bagorosa as one of the comanditarians – the other was the former chief of the General Staff, General Laurent Serubuga – of the attack against Habyarimana. The motive, always according to the Dgse, would be the resentment of both towards other heroes of the regime. This version continues to generate a division of opinions between experts and other researchers. Be that as it may, less than a year after his capture, he appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, charged with thirteen counts. In the end, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: it was Bagorosa who handed over weapons and who ordered Hutu soldiers to mass murder Tutsis and moderate Hutus, kill the prime minister, the Belgian soldiers, the president of the Constitutional Court and several opponents.
José María Ballester Esquivias