In a recent interview, prosecutor general Martin Ngoga has accused France of not doing anything to apprehend and extradite suspects of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. He added that Kigali will, if necessary, pursue France if it continues to serve as refuge.
Following the French judiciary's decision on December 6, 2012 to regularize the status of Agathe Habyarimana (considered as one of the Genocide's masterminds) and the rejection on December 19, 2012 of the extradition of two other Genocide suspects, Hyacinthe Nsengiyumva and Venuste Nyombayire, Ngoga declared that France's decisions were politically motivated.
"The court stressed that our accusations were politically driven. We found that ridiculous and insulting. French judges have to know that their country is the only one which has not yet started any trial of Genocide suspects on their soil, and there are many of them," he observed, adding that there have been similar demands, with positive results, in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Scandinavia. "In France, when it comes to Rwanda, there is no distinction between politics and the judiciary; it becomes the same thing."
So far, Rwanda's prosecution has indicted 20 Genocide suspects living in France.
Exceptionally, last week, on January 22, a Genocide suspect named Innocent Musabyimana was arrested in France. He had been living at Longvic in Dijon (Eastern France) where he was known as Ibrahim Niyonsenga. Last November, Prosecutors in Kigali had issued an international arrest warrant for Musabyimana, who was was born in Giciye (former Gisenyi prefecture), accusing him of genocide and crimes against humanity.
However, a French human rights group said that the arrest should not be taken as a serious attempt on the part of France to really become strict in dealing with Genocide suspects living there. And a genocide survivor who requested anonymity believes that there is little chance that Musabyimana will be handed over to the Rwandan authorities because so far no French court has responded positively to similar requests. Others even doubt that there is a chance he will be tried by a French court, since that too has never happened.
While meeting the Prime Minister recently, the new French envoy to Kigali, Michel Fresch, assured that he will tackle the issue of Genocide suspects on French soil. Fresch said that both countries have to move forward together and not look backward, create a spirit of partnership, and develop mutual benefit.
The Rwanda Focus tried to get an appointment with the French ambassador, but by press time we had not received an answer.
Arms and mercenaries
According to many observers, this reluctance of France to judge Genocide suspects or send them to Rwanda for trial has of course to do with the fact that investigations in such cases might ultimately bring to light its own involvement in the cataclysmic events. Yet that will not prevent the truth of coming out.
According to an article in the French Newspaper Le Parisien last week, a clandestine agent of the French government was paid US$ 3m by the Genocidal government to supply arms and more than 1,000 mercenaries to keep it in power as the slaughter of Tutsis was being implemented.
Captain Paul Barril was secretly sent to Rwanda by François de Grossouvre, advisor to President Francois Mitterrand, a few days before or after the start of the Genocide. On April 27, 1994, Rwandan Defense Minister Augustin Bizimana wrote a letter to Paul Barril asking for two specific supplies: arms and mercenaries. In this correspondence labeled "Urgent," Bizimana asked for different types of arms and 1,000 mercenaries to help the interim government fight off the RPF rebels as the execution of the Genocide continued. The price tag: US$ 3.13m from the state treasury. The contract was signed on April 28, 1994, at the Rwandan embassy in Paris.
In 1994, as the massacres spread, the government was losing ever more ground to the RPF rebels. As part of the counter offensive, Defense Minister Bizimana sought more direct help from France, which had always maintained very close ties with the Habyarimana government. Le Parisien reports that Agathe Habyarimana also personally asked Paul Barril to investigate who killed her husband.
On December 20 last year, the French judge Marc Trévidic, who has investigated the Habyarimana assassination and interviewed Paul Barril himself, concluded that Habyarimana's plane was shot down by his own inner circle. During a search of Barril's house, investigators found the letter from Bizimana and invoices of arms supplies to Rwanda dating back to that time.
In the interview with the judge, the now aging Captain Barril said he does not regret anything, but did not provide any substantial information. He currently presents himself as advisor to the government of Qatar.
Just two weeks ago, another French newspaper, Libération, had published details about two French military officers (and the wife of one of them) who were murdered in mysterious circumstances in Kigali a few days after Habyarimana's plane had been shot down. The men were in charge of the radio communication of the French establishment in Kigali, including that with the Rwandan army. While not presenting conclusive evidence, the paper suggested the men may have been eliminated because they overheard some messages that were supposed to be secret.