Outcry as Rwandan official allowed home for Christmas

24th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

France has allowed Rose Kabuye who is held in the country for her suspected involvement in Hutu president’s assassination in 1994 to return home for Christmas.

PARIS – A top Rwandan official held in France on charges of complicity in the murder that sparked the 1994 genocide has been allowed to fly home for Christmas, sparking an outcry Tuesday from plaintiffs in the case.

President Paul Kagame's chief of protocol, Rose Kabuye, has been held in France since November over her suspected involvement in the 1994 plane crash that killed the then Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Authorised by French judges Monday to return home for the holiday period, the 47-year-old is expected in Kigali Wednesday afternoon, the Rwandan information ministry said in a statement.

Kigali, which reacted furiously to her arrest, welcomed the French decision.
But the late Rwandan president's widow, Agathe Habyarimana, who is a civil plaintiff in the case, issued a sharp protest, calling it "a U-turn made for diplomatic reasons".

"My client is staggered by this decision which goes against normal practice for this kind of investigation," said her lawyer Philippe Meilhac.

"The only person accused in this case is allowed to return to Rwanda where she will be fully able to confer with the other people targeted in the procedure," he said.

"She wonders if this means Ms Kabuye's bail will be lifted pure and simple in three months time," Meilhac said, adding that his client "was coming to doubt the judiciary's determination to uncover the truth".

Rwanda's government's spokeswoman, Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, said Kigali was "happy" to see her come home.

"But this is only one step towards the justice she is owed," she said.

"We maintain that she is an innocent woman who was arrested in violation of international conventions," said the minister, repeating Kigali's calls for a "swift, just and equitable trial".

Kabuye was arrested in Germany in early November and transferred to France, where she was charged with "complicity in murder in relation to terrorism" and freed on bail, on condition she stay on French soil.

She denies the charges, according to her lawyer Leon-Lef Forster, who said she is bound to return to France by 10 January.

Kabuye's arrest angered Kagame's Tutsi government, which accuses Paris and its allies of deploying more efforts to persecute the genocide's survivors than to hunt its Hutu perpetrators.

Thousands of people have staged government-sanctioned protests in Kigali to demand the lifting of charges against her.

Rwanda, which severed diplomatic ties with France over her arrest warrant in 2006, hit back with a report accusing several key French political and military officials of actively supporting the genocide.

According to the United Nations, at least 800,000 people were massacred within weeks in the 1994 genocide against the small central African country's Tutsi minority.

In a parallel development, German federal prosecutors said Tuesday that a former Rwandan mayor accused by Kigali of involvement in the genocide had been arrested a second time in the country.

Onesphore Rwabukombe, a 51-year-old ethnic Hutu, was captured Monday, on suspicion of taking part in killings and "genocidal acts" against ethnic Tutsis as mayor of the northern town of Muvumba.

Rwabukombe's arrest follows months of legal limbo revolving around which authorities have legal jurisdiction in the case.

[AFP / Expatica]

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