Former first lady confident of asylum claim

19th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Feb 18, 2007 (AFP) - The widow of Rwanda's former president Juvenal Habyarimana is still confident she can win asylum status in France, despite having her request rejected this week, she told The Observer newspaper Sunday.

LONDON, Feb 18, 2007 (AFP) - The widow of Rwanda's former president Juvenal Habyarimana is still confident she can win asylum status in France, despite having her request rejected this week, she told The Observer newspaper Sunday.

 "I chose France. This is the land of justice and human rights. The truth will come out in the end and it will triumph," she was quoted as saying in an interview with the weekly's correspondent in Paris.

The case is now moving to France's highest administrative court, the State Council, to win the right for her to remain in France, the newspaper added.

On Thursday, an appeal body turned down Habyarimana's plea for asylum, confirming a January 11 ruling by the refugee office that the Hutu noblewoman may have taken part "as an instigator or accomplice" to the genocide in Rwanda.

Two days earlier, a French group representing survivors filed suit against her in the Paris courts citing complicity in crimes against humanity.

The Kigali government also accuses of her of complicity in the killings and there are claims she and her associates were behind the plot to shoot down her husband's plane.

The crash on April 6, 1994 triggered the 100-day genocide that left 800,000 people, most of them Tutsi, dead

"It's all lies. I deny the lot." said Habyarimana, 64, who has lived in France since being evacuated by French troops after the genocide.

"How could I have been? Can you imagine me making death lists on 6 April when I was in the garden of our Kanombe home, in darkness, picking up the debris of my husband's plane that were raining from the sky?

"They were firing at our home. All I could do was cry and pray. My daughter Jeanne phoned the French embassy to ask them to get us out. It took the French three days."

The Observer said Habyarimana believes she is exonerated in a report by a French judge, which claims the then leader of the Tutsi-dominated rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, Paul Kagame, ordered her late husband's plane to be shot down.

Jean-Louis Bruguiere said Kagame -- now Rwandan President -- and members of his government should be investigated and put on trial.

Kagame told the BBC in an interview broadcast on January 31 that he would co-operate with any inquiry but denied involvement.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Rwanda

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