Suit filed in France for Rwanda genocide

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - A suit filed by six Rwandans alleging that French soldiers were complicit in the 1994 genocide in the central African country will be dealt with according to the law, the defence ministry said Thursday.

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - A suit filed by six Rwandans alleging that French soldiers were complicit in the 1994 genocide in the central African country will be dealt with according to the law, the defence ministry said Thursday.

But ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said the troops were in Rwanda under an international mandate issued by the United Nations Security Council.

And he indicated that Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie would have to give the green light for any case to proceed in the Paris military tribunal, the only court with jurisdiction to try French soldiers for crimes committed abroad.

The complaint hits out at Operation Turquoise, under which UN-mandated French troops were tasked with creating a secure humanitarian area in southwestern Rwanda.

The plaintiffs claim that French troops allowed Rwandan government forces and Hutu extremists known as the Interahamwe to enter camps under their protection, where they kidnapped minority Tutsis.

William Bourdon and Antoine Comte, the lawyers for the six Rwandan plaintiffs, said their clients were persecuted, injured and saw most of their family members killed in the 1994 genocide.

Comte also said that witnesses had seen French troops "capture Tutsis, place them in helicopters and throw them out into the open sky."

"From our point of view, these facts can be seen as complicity in genocide, as there was an actual participation by French troops in operations against a specific ethnic group," Comte said.

But an attorney experienced with cases before the French military tribunal told AFP that the court would likely not decide to hear the case, as such issues were in the domain of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Bureau said Thursday that the French parliament had inquired into the facts in 1999 "and nothing of this features in the report of the parliamentary mission."

The Rwandan genocide, sparked by the death of a Hutu president in a suspicious air crash, claimed the lives of some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Paris has repeatedly denied any blame for what happened in Rwanda.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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