Rwanda demands France arrest the ex-first lady

11th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

KIGALI, Jan 11, 2007 (AFP) - Rwanda on Thursday demanded that France arrest the widow of the country's former president, saying its denial this week of asylum to the woman suspected in Rwanda's 1994 genocide was not good enough.

KIGALI, Jan 11, 2007 (AFP) - Rwanda on Thursday demanded that France arrest the widow of the country's former president, saying its denial this week of asylum to the woman suspected in Rwanda's 1994 genocide was not good enough.

Amid a collapse in relations between Kigali and Paris over allegations of French complicity in the events that led to the mass killings, Rwanda berated French authorities for their treatment of Agathe Habyarimana.

"It is not enough to deny her refugee status, France should arrest her because she is among the principle genocide plotters," Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told AFP.

He said that denying Habyarimana, widow of ex-president Juvenal Habyarimana whose April 6, 1994 assassination triggered the genocide, was not a sufficient measure because she is among key suspects in the killings.

"Why did France wait for more than 12 years to take this decision?" Karugarama said, noting that Habyarimana has been in France for more than a decade despite repeated Rwandan complaints.

"Everybody is asking the same question and she is still in France after all," he said. "Habyarimana's wife is not the only one, there are several genocide plotters in France."

"We are asking why France does not want to arrest them," Karugarama added.

"They are living in France peacefully. France has become a sanctuary for genocide perpetrators, even those who have been convicted."

On January 4, Habyarimana's July 2004 request for asylum was turned down by France's refugee office OFPRA, which said in its ruling that she may have taken part "as an instigator or accomplice" in the "crime of genocide".

She is accused by some of heading an inner circle of her husband's supporters that orchestrated and unleashed the genocide in which some 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were slaughtered by Hutu extremists over 100 days.

Karugarama blamed France for delaying steps against Habyarimana, who has lived in France since she was evacuated by French troops after the genocide.

"France makes no effort to arrest them (genocide suspects). It is as though what happened in Rwanda rings no bell. When it puts in effort, it is in the negative direction to support those negating the genocide," Karugarama said.

In November, Rwanda cut ties with France after a French judge called for current President Paul Kagame to be tried for involvement in the death of Habyarimana's husband, whose plane was shot down over Kigali in unclear circumstances.

Ties between the two countries had remained cold over mutual recriminations for involvement in the genocide.

Kagame headed a guerrilla opposition movement at the time of president Habyarimana's assassination, and came to power in the wake of the genocide.

His regime has long accused French soldiers of associating with extremist Hutu militia, but France has denied the charges.

Kigali set up a team to look into those accusations and plans to file suit against Paris at the world court if there is enough evidence.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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