Kagame sparked Rwanda genocide: French probe

10th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 9 (AFP) - A French police inquiry blames Rwandan President Paul Kagame for the 1994 rocket attack that killed his predecessor and triggered genocide, Le Monde newspaper reported Tuesday, but Rwanda swiftly dismissed it.

PARIS, March 9 (AFP) - A French police inquiry blames Rwandan President Paul Kagame for the 1994 rocket attack that killed his predecessor and triggered genocide, Le Monde newspaper reported Tuesday, but Rwanda swiftly dismissed it.

The report - released by the anti-terrorist division of the judicial police - found that Kagame, who was head of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel movement, gave orders for the two missiles to be fired at Juvenal Habyarimana's plane as it came in to land at Kigali airport on April 6, the French daily said.

In Rwanda, RPF spokesman Servilien Sebasoni told AFP that the document "brings no new element, no new proof to back up accusations which date back at least until March 1998."

Sebasoni said "every year since 1998, it's been announced that the report will come out towards April 7 on the anniversary of the commemoration of the genocide, and it's curious that it comes out before President Kagame goes to Belgium."

Kagame is due Wednesday to pay a visit to the former colonial power.On April 7, 1994, the late Habyarimana's majority Hutu army and extremist militias began the massacres of up to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus opposed to the massacres that lasted till July 17.

The police findings, handed over to France's leading anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, were based on interviews with hundreds of witnesses, including one member of the cell ordered by Kagame to carry out the attack, Le Monde said.

Kagame, who eventually became president after the RPF seized Kigali and ended the massacres, has several times said he did not take seriously an investigation by a French anti-terrorist judge "who has never set foot in Rwanda".

Bruguiere has been investigating the Habyarimana plane crash for the last six years, after the families of French victims who died in it filed a suit in Paris.

According to Le Monde, the case is fraught with diplomatic complications because when Bruguiere presents his conclusions to the prosecutor's office it could lead quickly to international arrest warrants for senior members of Kagame's entourage.

Kagame would himself be protected by his presidential immunity.

The police report quoted the member of the assassination cell as saying that Kagame - a Tutsi who had fled Rwanda - had little regard for Tutsis who had stayed behind, who he thought had assimilated too closely with their Hutu masters.

"The Tutsis of the interior were potential enemies who had to be eliminated just like the Hutus in order to take power, which was Kagame's essential aim," the man was quoted as saying.

Relations between Paris and Kigali have been tense for many years as a result of accusations that France - Habyarimana's main backer - connived in the genocide.

Sebasoni said the timing of the report is due to "animosity between French officialdom and Rwanda".

Le Monde reported that France has helped opponents of Kagame to escape from the country, and that the authorities in Kigali have "physically eliminated several of Bruguiere's informers."

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

0 Comments To This Article