20 years on, French courts take up Rwanda's genocide and hold unflattering mirror for France

Through a ground-breaking trial, France is at last coming to terms with its much-criticized response to Rwanda's genocide.

The trial is two decades too late to stop the killings. But activists hope it reminds today's French leaders of their responsibilities in Africa, and marks the end of an era in which France provided a haven for those who commit atrocities abroad.

A wheelchair-bound Rwandan former intelligence chief, Pascal Simbikangwa (Sim-BEE-kangh-wah), appears in Paris court Tuesday for a seven-week trial. He faces charges of complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity.

France was close to the Rwandan government and is accused of helping people involved in the 1994 genocide to flee.

The trial was made possible under 1990s laws allowing near-universal jurisdiction for exceptional crimes.