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  • A file photo from Sep. 17, 2001, of French Land Forces Commander Jean-Claude Lafourcade, who headed the French forces in Rwanda in 1994.

    A file photo from Sep. 17, 2001, of French Land Forces Commander Jean-Claude Lafourcade, who headed the French forces in Rwanda in 1994. | Photo: AFP

Published 7 February 2016

The general denied all claims that the French army was complicit in the slaughter of thousands of Tutsi people in Rwanda.

A French general has defended France’s role in 1994 Rwandan genocide during a probe held last month in Paris, sources close to the case said Sunday.

General Jean-Claude Lafourcade was questioned in court over claims that France’s U.N.-mandated Operation Turquoise, which was put in place to stop the genocide, allowed more ethnic Tutsis to be killed by the Hutu majority in the western Bisesero hills in June 1994.

Some have claimed that French troops supplied weapons and gave key intelligence to the governing Hutus which led to more deaths.

Lafourcade, who appeared as an "assisted witness," meaning he has not been charged with any crime, dismissed such accusations as “completely false.”

“I will say it again here. No munitions, not even a bullet, was given by Operation Turquoise” to the Hutus, the retired general told the judge. “Where the French soldiers were, there were no massacres nor abuses.”

“It took some time for the reality of the genocide to sink in seeing ... the presence of mass graves, burned villages,” the 72-year-old added during lengthy hearings held on Jan. 12 and 14.

Lafourcade was questioned primarily as a result of a 2005 complaint filed in France by survivors of the massacre. They asked why French forces didn’t to return to Bisesero on Jun. 27, 1994, to protect Tutsi people after promising to do so.

The troops returned to the area, three days later, to find hundreds had been killed.

The general said he was short-staffed and gave priority to the “evacuation of the sisters of Kibuye” nuns in western Rwanda.

“I can only regret the death of the Tutsis who died during these two days,” he said. “We were very much alone.”

Three months after being deployed in the central African country over 800,000 had been declared dead, most of whom were Tutsis.

Current Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused Paris of complicity in the genocide because of its support of the Hutu nationalist government that carried out the mass slaughter.

Paris has repeatedly denied such accusations and insists that French forces worked to protect civilians.

Bilateral relations between Rwanda and France were completely frozen from 2006 to 2009 and remain tense.

WATCH: teleSUR Reports - Genocide in Rwanda

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