- Rwandan government officials claim that new proof of France's role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide has emerged during the UN's Rwanda court hearings. Not only was France training the genocidal militias prior to the genocide, the French government was even today providing perpetrators of the genocide a refuge. France has earlier been criticised by a European court for not trying genocide suspects.
Aloys Mutabingwa, the Rwandan government's envoy to the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), yesterday made strong statements to the press in Arusha (Tanzania), where the ICTR is based. Mr Mutabingwa said the French government had part of the responsibility for the 1994 genocide and for not letting the ICTR doing its job properly.
The Rwandan envoy was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying that the ICTR's ten-year investigations had produced "sufficient and credible evidence" to try French government officials. Many witnesses had told the tribunal about French soldiers training the Interahamwe militia of Hutu extremists. It was only because the ICTR wanted to avoid "a diplomatic incident" that French officials had not been charged.
Mr Mutabingwa also repeated the more known allegations that France keeps interfering with justice by providing a shelter for suspected genocide perpetrators. Several main suspects are still said to be at large in France, allegedly under the protection of the Paris government.
These allegations against France are not new. In June last year, the European Court of Human Rights slammed the French judiciary for using unreasonable long time in proceeding against a Rwandan clergyman, who had been charged with genocide compliancy nine years before. The European court found that the French judiciary was not satisfying the 'reasonable time' requirement" in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Also international human rights groups have criticised France for its seeming unwillingness to contribute to justice for Rwanda's genocide victims. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) claims that cases related to the Rwandan genocide had in general been met by "a certain coolness by French judiciary authorities."
France, which supported Rwanda's Hutu government in power when the genocide started, has kept a distance to Rwanda's new leadership. French government and judiciary sources continuously are trying to put Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame in connection with a 1994 rocket attack on an aircraft in Kigali, killing the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and setting off the genocide.
Meanwhile, in Rwanda, the government and people at large are preparing for tomorrow's 11th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. During the commemoration week of mourning, many local communities focus on the exhumation of mass graves. Many of the estimated 800,000 bodies placed in mass graves during the genocide are exhumed and reburied in dignity during the annual commemoration week.
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