France’s investigation into attack that prompted the Rwandan genocide is finally ended
According to Guardian, two French judges have dropped their investigation of the 1994 attack on the former President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, which led to the country’s infamous genocide. The probe has been a central source of conflict between France and Rwanda because seven people who are close to Rwanda’s current President Paul Kagame were targeted in the French-led investigation. Juvenal Habyarimana’s widow Agathe Habyarimana is being represented by Phillipe Meilhac, who told reporters that she and the other plaintiffs named in the case would appeal the decision to end the investigation.
In October, French prosecutors recommended that the case be dropped due to an alleged lack of evidence connecting the seven suspected Tutsi militants to the attack. Lawyers representing the widowed Habyarimana called the declaration by French prosecutors “unacceptable” and “largely politically motivated.” Juvenal Habyarimana, who was an ethnic Hutu, was killed in a missile strike on his plane close to Kigali’s airport in April of 1994. The assassination prompted a massacre lasting 100 days that left about 800,000 people were dead, most of whom were from the Tutsi minority.
Kigali has long held that France was complicit in the genocide by training the soldiers and militiamen who did the killing in the Hutu regime. France’s probe was opened in 1998, after the requests of family members of French crew members who were killed in the attack. Jean-Louis Brugiere, the first judge to lead the investigation, backed the theory that Tutsi militants, who were led by Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, had shot down the plane carrying Habyarimana, but a 2009 report from the Rwandan government found that Hutu extremists were responsible for the assassination, and Brugiere’s successor suggested that Hutu extremists were probably responsible for the attack.
Agathe Habyarimana’s lawyer Meilhac told the BBC, “We have to interpret this decision by French judges as a form of resignation faced with a political context which prosecutors did not know how to fight. Rwandan authorities have never sought to help bring the truth to light.”
But foreign Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera said of the end of the investigation, “We welcome this decision which brings to an end a brazen attempt over two decades to obstruct justice for the genocide against the Tutsi, and prevent accountability for both the perpetrators and their wilful accomplices.”