Rwanda goes public on French genocide complicity

24th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

KIGALI, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) - Rwanda opened public hearings Tuesday in the second phase of a probe into alleged French complicity during its 1994 genocide to determine if the central African nation will take France to the world court.

KIGALI, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) - Rwanda opened public hearings Tuesday in the second phase of a probe into alleged French complicity during its 1994 genocide to determine if the central African nation will take France to the world court.

The sessions before a government inquiry committee, which are being held in meeting hall near the offices of the prime minister and broadcast live on radio, will hear from a total of 25 witnesses over the next week.

Tuesday's hearing involves testimony from four current and former senior officials, including Jacques Bihozagara, Rwanda's ambassador to France after the genocide, and current Senator Augustin Iyamulemye, who was the country's intelligence chief in 1993 and 1994.

The inquiry panel, made up of historians, legal experts and a senior military officer in the former Rwandan army, began its work in April and is expected to release its findings within the next six months, officials said.

"This is an important inquiry that should be witnessed by everyone interested in this important episode of our history," said commission chairman and former Rwandan justice minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo said.

"The report will determine whether to pursue legal action at the International Court of Justice or to rest the matter," he told AFP at the weekend.

The panel is looking into claims that France trained and armed those responsible for the genocide, in which some 800,000 people were slaughtered in a 100-day killing spree from April to July 1994, and helped some flee.

Kigali has repeatedly accused Paris of abetting the genocide, but France has denied any role in the massacres of mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists.

The commission wrapped up preliminary investigations in August and its original mandate was extended for six months earlier this month after members said they would be unable to meet an October 16 deadline to complete its work.

Last year, a former French soldier alleged that French troops had trained Rwandan militia in the two years leading up to the 1994 genocide.

A French military tribunal is currently investigating claims by six Rwandan Tutsis who filed a complaint accusing French troops of being complicit "in genocide and/or crimes against humanity."

The witnesses hail from the mountainous western region of Bisesero, where survivors claim French forces deployed there lured Tutsis from hideouts in the hills to village centers where they were killed.

French soldiers were deployed to southwestern Rwanda under a UN mandate in the final weeks of the genocide to set up and secure a humanitarian zone, but have been accused of allowing radical Hutus to enter Tutsi camps.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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