The New Times (Kigali)

12 January 2012

Rwanda: Scholars Speak Out On Trévidic Report

The expert report into the downing of the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana from Dar-es-salam in 1994, released on Tuesday vindicates, the Rwandan government of any wrongdoing.

In separate interviews with The New Times, Genocide scholar, Tom Ndahiro and renowned researcher, Dr. Diogene Bideri, said the judges were spot-on in their findings.

"It is a professionally compiled report which confirms conclusions of the Mutsinzi report. This report is very different from Jean Louis Bruguiere's which was a mere piece of blah-blah, and very unprofessional" Ndahiro observed.

"It is a slap in the face and mind of genocidaires and their friends, especially Genocide deniers. This report makes many books and articles by known Genocide supporters worthless."

According to Ndahiro, unless one believes the command and security of Kanombe military barracks were under the Rwandan Patriotic Army, the report renders worthless any assertions suggesting that the RPA took any part in the shooting down of the plane.

"The likes of Peter Erlinder Pierre Péan, Jean Baptiste Nkuliyingoma, and many others, must be cursing the French judges who said what many of us had always said."

The November 2006 report by French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere that formed the basis of the controversial indictment of nine Rwandan government officials.

The warrants triggered a break in diplomatic ties between France and Rwanda that have since been re-established.

The latest report by experts commissioned by French Judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, identified Kanombe Barracks as the launch site of the missiles that brought down the plane on April 6, 1994.

The plane was shot down as it prepared to land at Kigali International Airport, bringing back Habyarimana from a summit in Tanzania.

Dr. Bideri welcomed the investigation, which he said shows that the judges went out of their way to get actual evidence and shows that the current government had no involvement in the downing of the plane.

"It is a comprehensive conclusion by the judges," he said.

"I was not surprised by the judges' conclusions. As you know, they sent their team of experts to come and gather evidence. They didn't just sit in Paris and make their only conclusions.

"They came and carried out a thorough investigation so that they could be able to conclude on the case.

The two judges together with a team of experts in aeronautics and ballistics arrived in the country in September 2010 and embarked on a week-long investigation into the shooting of the plane carrying former Presidents Habyarimana and Burundi's Cyprien Ntaryamira, and 11 others.

"This report renders useless all the theories that were being put forward by all those with ill motives...the judges based their conclusions on scientific evidence and not on hearsay, not on rumours," Bideri said.

"Its gives credit to what Rwanda has been telling the world all along.

There are two things - one is that, it is good that the truth is finally out and secondly, all those who have been making false allegations are now proven wrong," he said.

Allegations from various circles had over the years accused senior members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A), now Rwanda Defence Forces, of shooting down the plane.

However, the report reveals that Habyarimana was killed by his own henchmen who were against the idea of sharing power with the RPF.

According to the Mutsinzi probe, which preceded Trévidic's, Habyarimana was actually in the know about a plot hatched by his inner circle to assassinate him and the masterminds included architects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, such as Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera.

The team interviewed close to 600 witnesses besides employing the services of ballistic experts from the British military for advice and analysis.

According to the scholars, the report has exposed the extent to which the perpetrators and their supporters went to cover their tracks.

For over 17 years, mysteries have surrounded the affair, especially the whereabouts of the Flight Data Recorder (black box).

The April 6, 1994 assassination was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords.

The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army.

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