Alain Gauthier and his wife Dafroza are working to get justice for victims of the Rwandan genocide. For the last 13 years the Gauthiers have collected information on 24 Hutu men and women in France who they suspect participated in the slaughter of nearly 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi, during the 1994 genocide.
Many have accused France of giving aid, weapons and training to the Hutu people—several of whom have fled to France in an effort to avoid prosecution. In 2009 France reopened diplomatic relations with Rwanda and recently convened a five-judge panel in Paris to investigate possible Rwandan absconders in the country.
“Here, the fugitives live in denial,” Mrs. Gauthier told the New York Times. Mrs. Gauthier, 59, a chemical engineer, is a Tutsi from Rwanda who lost her mother and over 80 relatives in the genocide. She met her husband in the capital of Kigali and they were married in 1977. “They’ve always denied, they have created another story, they have completely erased that part of their lives. They were obliged to do so, otherwise you end up in a mental institution. You can’t live with a crime like that.”
Mrs. Gauthier and her husband have worked as amateur investigators for over a decade, tracking down suspects in preparation of brining civil lawsuits against the perpetrators. And their efforts are starting to pay off.
For the Gauthiers, the news that French authorities were prepared to bring their first genocide case was vindication for 13 years of labor. They had found the defendant, Pascal Simbikangwa, five years ago, at his home in the slums of Kaweni, a city on the island of Mayotte, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.
“They were alone, they fought, and their work is colossal,” said Maria Malagardis, a journalist for the newspaper Libération, who wrote a book, “On the Track of the Rwandan Killers,” about the couple.
…He and his wife have worked feverishly since then, interrogating prosecutors, prisoners and victims of the genocide in Rwanda. They have gathered information online and through archival research and interviews with former prefects, magistrates and doctors — people with the wealth and connections to flee their homeland. The couple established that many of the fugitives, some of whom were wanted by Rwanda, Interpol and the tribunal, had become respected French citizens.
In 2004, the couple unmasked Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, a former prefect who had settled in Carcassonne, in southern France, after the genocide. Mr. Ntawukuriryayo worked in a church there and founded Future Geniuses, a nongovernmental organization to help children in Rwanda.
…The couple also tracked down Sosthène Munyemana, a respected gynecologist who lives in the southwest of France and has never been convicted. In Rwanda, he is sometimes called the “butcher of Tumba” (Tumba is a district south of Butare) and is accused by local authorities and Interpol of murder and being involved in his country’s extermination plan against the Tutsis.
Despite sleepless nights and years of work, the Gauthiers say they will continue their fight for justice.
“What drives us is that the killers be judged, for history, for the victims. It is our turn, us as alive people, as survivors to claim for justice because if we don’t do it, nobody will, and nobody will make amends for what happened.”