Rwanda to probe French of­fi­cials’ geno­cide role KIGALIL:

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rwanda on Tues­day opened a for­mal probe into 20 French of­fi­cials sus­pected of play­ing a role in the 1994 geno­cide, in a move likely to fur­ther sour diplo­matic ties with France. Ki­gali has long ac­cused France of com­plic­ity in the geno­cide of some 800,000 mostly eth­nic Tut­sis, at the hands of Hutu ex­trem­ists, an­ger­ing Paris and strain­ing re­la­tions.

“The in­quiry, for now, is fo­cused on 20 in­di­vid­u­als whom, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion gath­ered so far, are re­quired by the pros­e­cu­tion au­thor­ity to ex­plain or pro­vide clar­ity on al­le­ga­tions against them,” said pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral Richard Muhu­muza in a state­ment. This will en­able pros­e­cu­tors to de­cide “whether the con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als should be for­mally charged or not”.

Muhu­muza said the rel­e­vant French au­thor­i­ties had been con­tacted and that full co­op­er­a­tion was ex­pected. The dis­pute cen­ters on France’s role prior to the geno­cide as a close ally of the Hutu na­tion­al­ist regime of Ju­ve­nal Hab­ya­ri­mana. The shoot­ing down of his plane over Ki­gali on April 6, 1994 was the event that trig­gered 100 days of metic­u­lously planned slaugh­ter. France is ac­cused of miss­ing or ig­nor­ing the warn­ing signs, and of train­ing the soldiers and mili­ti­a­men who car­ried out the killings.

And when the geno­cide was in full swing, it was fur­ther ac­cused of us­ing its diplo­matic clout to stall ef­fec­tive ac­tion. When it did finally send in troops-in Op­er­a­tion Turquoise-it was ac­cused of only do­ing so to counter the ad­vance of the Tutsi rebels of Paul Kagame, who is now pres­i­dent, al­low­ing the per­pe­tra­tors to es­cape to neigh­bor­ing Zaire which later be­came the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo. to dis­tract at­ten­tion from what they say is his own poor hu­man rights record.

When con­tacted by AFP, the French de­fense min­istry re­ferred to a state­ment is­sued on Novem­ber 16 by De­fense Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian af­ter a list of 22 high-rank­ing French of­fi­cers sus­pected of in­volve­ment was first pub­lished by Ki­gali. There was “noth­ing new” in the list, Le Drian said at the time, adding that it was “al­most iden­ti­cal to one pro­duced in 2008” and “to say that the French army took park in geno­cide was a dis­grace­ful lie”. Although re­la­tions be­tween Ki­gali and Paris were com­pletely frozen from 2006 to 2009, they were on the mend un­til 2014 when Kagame re­peated ac­cu­sa­tions that French soldiers were both ac­com­plices and “ac­tors” in the blood­bath.

The re­marks prompted France to pull out of cer­e­monies to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the mas­sacres. The stormy re­la­tion­ship took an even worse turn when the French ju­di­ciary de­cided in Oc­to­ber to re­open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing down of Hab­ya­ri­mana’s plane to hear tes­ti­mony from a for­mer gen­eral who ac­cuses Kagame of be­ing be­hind the as­sas­si­na­tion. “It is France which should be in the dock,” said Kagame. In ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion, Rwanda on Novem­ber 1 pub­lished the list of 22 se­nior French of­fi­cers it ac­cuses of be­ing in­volved in the geno­cide. —AFP

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