A Rwandan doctor convicted on genocide charges has been suspended by a French public hospital following a protest by a Rwandan government commission, the Associated Press news agency reports.
The protest which was issued on Monday by the Rwanda National Commission for the Fight against Genocide came after Dr. Charles Twagira started working at the Paul Doumer Hospital outside Paris last month. The commission says his hiring trivializes the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 people were killed.
According to the Paris regional hospital authority, the hospital learned of the accusations against Twagira only a week after he started working there.
The hospital in a statement says they sought clarification from the Paris prosecutor’s office and decided to suspend him “to ensure the good functioning of the public hospital service.”
Twagira, who was a former regional health director in Rwanda, was convicted in absentia in 2009 of crimes related to Rwanda’s genocide. Twagira received a life sentence.
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 any wrongdoing and according to his lawyer Arthur Vercken, 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.