"I am a doctor, not a murderer", Eugène Rwamucyo declared in the defendant's box as he was appearing before the appeal court of Versailles (Paris region).
His three lawyers asked the tribunal to refuse his extradition to Rwanda, arguing that Rwandan justice did not present enough guarantees for a fair trial.
"On May 28, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) considered that Rwandan justice was not independent and that risks of pressure on the judges and witnesses existed", said one of them, Jean Flamme.
Rwamucyo, aged 50, was last month dismissed from his hospital post in Maubeuge (North of France), officially for lack of a working permit. However, his dismissal followed suspicion raised by a nurse, who had "googled" Rwamucyo's name on the Internet.
Kigali accuses Eugène Rwamucyo of participating in meetings with "top genocidaires" in Butare (South of Rwanda), including a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Hutu interim government in 1994, Jean Kambanda.
Kambanda has been sentenced to life in jail by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and is serving his term in Benin.
Kigali welcomed Rwamucyo's arrest. "We are pleased. We have noticed these past few days that France is committed to prosecuting alleged 'genocidaires' who have taken refuge there", Rwanda's Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga declared Thursday on Radio Rwanda.
Ngoga also reiterated that, ideally, the Rwandan authorities would want genocide suspects to be extradited to Rwanda.
Eugène Rwamucyo was arrested in Sannois, north of Paris, after attending the funeral of Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, a former Rwandan official convicted by the ICTR for genocide, who had died last month in a Benin jail.
French justice has already rejected three requests for extradition to Rwanda of Rwandan suspected of participation to the genocide, stating that not enough guarantees were granted to the defence before Rwandan tribunals.
© Hirondelle News Agency