KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A French public hospital has suspended a Rwandan doctor who was convicted on genocide charges back home, after a protest by a Rwandan government commission.
Dr. Charles Twagira started working at the Paul Doumer Hospital outside Paris last month, and the Rwanda National Commission for the Fight against Genocide issued a protest Monday. The commission says his hiring trivializes the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 people were killed.
The Paris regional hospital authority said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the hospital learned of the accusations against Twagira only a week after he started working there.
The hospital sought clarification from the Paris prosecutor’s office and decided to suspend him “to ensure the good functioning of the public hospital service,” the statement said.
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Twagira, a former regional health director in Rwanda, was found guilty in absentia in 2009 of crimes related to Rwanda’s genocide and sentenced to life.
He is also under investigation in France, where he was handed preliminary charges of complicity to genocide and crimes against humanity in 2014. That investigation is ongoing.
Twagira denies wrongdoing. His lawyer, Arthur Vercken, said Tuesday the Rwandan case against Twagira was politically motivated and driven by a government that is “using genocide (investigations) for political ends.”
Vercken said Twagira told the hospital about his legal problems when applying for the post.
“What is wrong … if someone who is under preliminary charges and presumed innocent gets a job while he is preparing his defense?” the lawyer asked. “He’s a good doctor. That’s it.”
Relations between Rwanda and France are increasingly strained over Rwanda’s accusations of French complicity in the genocide, which France denies.