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News > World

France Closes Probe into 1994 Attack on Rwanda President

  • President Paul Kagame has condemned the deceptive part that France played in its ‘humanitarian’ missions during the 1994 genocide.

    President Paul Kagame has condemned the deceptive part that France played in its ‘humanitarian’ missions during the 1994 genocide. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 December 2017

The long-running probe has been a major source of tension between the two countries following accusations that a Tutsi militia headed by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame was responsible for the attack on the plane in April 1994.

French anti-terror judges have ended an investigation into the missile attack on a plane that killed former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, sparking Rwanda's 1994 genocide, legal sources said Thursday.

The missile strike near Kigali's airport sparked the 100-day slaughter of the Tutsi ethnic minority by members of Habyarimana's Hutu ethnic group, leaving an estimated 800,000 people dead.

Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide by supporting the Hutu regime, training the soldiers and militiamen who carried out the killings.

France armed and trained Rwanda's soldiers, and claimed to launch the operation Turquoise between June and August in order to protect the Tutsis, but was accused of protecting the Hutus instead.

Earlier in June this year, a French media leaked compromising revelations by a French high state official responsible for checking archives that then-President Francois Hollande had ordered open to the public. The official warned a private committee that the documents proved that the government decided to arm Rwanda's army again during the military operation, even if it had just been accused of genocide. 

One month before the operation Turquoise started, the United Nations had issued an embargo on weapons sales to Rwanda, meaning that France violated the resolution.

Ties had been on the mend until 2014 when Kagame repeated accusations that French soldiers had been involved in the bloodbath.

The relationship took an even worse turn when the French judiciary decided in October 2016 to reopen an investigation into the attack on the plane, as the French crew was among the victims.

In October, sources close to the probe told AFP that the judges had heard from a new witness who claimed to have seen the surface-to-air missiles used to launch the attack at the headquarters of Kagame's militia.

The testimony corroborates other versions of events that point the finger at Kagame's regime.

French authorities have been investigating the strike as French citizens were among those killed aboard Habyarimana's plane.

A total of seven people have been charged in France over the deaths, including Rwanda's current defense minister, James Kabarebe, and Franck Nziza who allegedly fired the missile.

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