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New book implicates France in Rwandan genocide

Published on 22/03/2004

PARIS, March 21 (AFP) - French authorities had a hand in Rwanda's 1994 genocide by helping train soldiers of the Hutu regime in power at the time, a new book by a French journalist says.

“Soldiers from our country trained, under orders, the killers in the Tutsi genocide,” Patrick de Saint-Exupery wrote in his book “L’Inavouable, la France au Rwanda” (Unspeakable: France in Rwanda), which is to be released Thursday.

He said he started to investigate France’s involvement after a 1994 meeting in southwest Rwanda with a French military unit.

A French solider, wearing a Rwandan army jacket over his uniform, admitted to him that “last year, I trained the Rwandan presidential guard,” which was accused of leading killers to their victims, Saint-Exupery wrote.

On his return to Paris, he met other French soldiers who “were relieved to talk”, and set out some of what he found in the pages of Le Figaro newspaper.

According to his research, between 1991 and mid-1994, successive French governments sent significant military aid to French-speaking Rwanda. By 1992, several hundred French soldiers had trained up to 50,000 Rwandan soldiers, and several million euros in arms had been delivered.

The goal, for France and in particular the president at the time, Francois Mitterrand, was to pursue the “desire for empire,” he wrote.

“In those countries over there, genocide is not too important,” he claimed Mitterrand told aides in 1994.

At least 800,000 and as many as one million people were massacred, most of them by the then Hutu army and extremist militias.


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