French investigation clears Paul Kagame of blame in the assassination that triggered one of the worst genocides in post-war history.
Eighteen years after the shooting down of a plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and the unleashing of the worst genocides post-war history has known, a fresh investigation in France has cleared the present Rwandan chief, Paul Kagame, of all blame.
The investigation conducted by Judge Marc Trevidic (who is also investigating the Karachi submarine sale scandal) has concluded that the fatal missile was fired not by Tutsi rebels led by Paul Kagame, but from a camp housing the Presidential bodyguard of Juvenal Habyarimana, who was assassinated on April 6, 1994. His death led to the deliberate and brutal killing of 800,000 members of Rwanda's minority Tutsi tribe.
France has long placed the blame for the Rwandan genocide on the shoulders of Paul Kagame, who was then the leader of the oppressed Tutsi minority. Several well-known writers and journalists like Belgium's Collette Braekman or the celebrated New York journalist and writer Philip Gourevitch have contended that the French government, which was close to the Hutu faction led by Juvenal Habiyarimana, had given safe passage to several perpetrators of the genocide and that the initial report issued by France's famous anti-terrorism judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere was a mere whitewash.
“Judge Bruguiere did not even visit the site. He based all his testimony on details provided by French officers who were present. For the first time we have serious evidence about what could have happened placed before us,” Collette Braekman told The Hindu.
The conclusions of Mr. Justice Trevidic's findings — over 400 pages long with the reports of six experts including ballistic specialists and aeronautical engineers who visited the crash site — are bound to prove embarrassing for the French government, Mr. Justice Bruguiere himself and for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda at The Hague which has largely relied on the Bruguiere report.
Mr. Justice Bruguiere went so far as to issue international arrest warrants for serving Rwandan officials, causing an outcry in Kigali. For a while diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda were cut off until France tendered a half-hearted apology.
That Mr. Justice Bruguiere acted for “reasons of state” than in the interest of truth is evident from his reluctant investigation into the sale of Agosta submarines to Pakistan in the late 90s. This latest report is bound to tarnish the image of the late President, Francois Mitterrand, but it might cause further problems for Eduard Balladur, who served as Prime Minister and who is currently embroiled in the Karachi submarine scandal.