Philippe Hategekimana, 66, and a former chief warrant officer, has been found guilty by a French court of genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 Rwandan genocide in his home country, Rwanda.
Hategekimana, who had worked as a senior gendarme or military force in Nyanza, a town in the south of Rwanda, allegedly set up roadblocks to identify ethnic Tutsis who would be murdered.
The trial, which began last month, was the fifth such trial in France of an alleged participant in the massacres.
Most of the accusers accused Hategekimana of “using the powers and military force conferred on him through his rank in order to take part in the genocide. However, he pleaded not guilty to charges of being involved in genocide.
He fled to France five years after the genocide, obtaining refugee status under a fake name, Philippe Manier. He became a university security guard in the city of Rennes and gained French citizenship in 2005.
The prosecutors had described him as having played a central role in carrying out the killings, not only murdering people but inciting others to do so. Hategekimana is charged with involvement in the murder of dozens of Tutsis and also setting up roadblocks to stop Tutsis who would then be killed in and around the southern provincial capital of Nyanza, where he worked as a senior police official.
He was suspected of being involved in the murders of a nun and the mayor of the town of Ntyazo, who opposed the killings. He is also accused of having a role in the killing of 300 Tutsi refugees on a hill called Nyamugari and in an attack on another mountain called Nyabubare in which around 1,000 civilians were killed.
He denied the charges, but the court said it had found Hategekimana, guilty of nearly all the charges against him.
According to UN figures, more than 800,000 people were killed between April and July 1994.
France is one of the top destinations for fugitives from the massacres, and it has tried and convicted many a former spy chief, two ex-mayors, a former hotel chauffeur, and an ex-top official in similar trials since 2014.