Rwanda opens investigations on 20 French officials over genocide

KIGALI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has opened criminal inquiry against 20 French officials for their role in the 1994 genocide, some of whom could be charged in court if proceedings show they have cases to answer, according to a statement released on Tuesday evening by the office of the Prosecutor General.

"The Office of the Prosecutor General announces the start of a formal criminal inquiry into the role of certain French Government agents and/or officials in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda," reads the statement signed by Richard Muhumuza, Rwanda Prosecutor General.

Rwanda wants to conclusively bring to an end simmering tension with Franceby making those who took part in the massacre of over a million lives pay for their actions, reads part of the statement.

The prosecution authority further said that as investigations continue, other French government agents and/or officials might be required to similarly assist the prosecution authority.

Prosecution said that relevant French government authorities have been formally engaged.

"The inquiry, for now, is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the Prosecution Authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them, to enable the Authority to make conclusions whether the concerned individuals should be formally charged or not," reads the statement.

Early this month, Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda minister of foreign affairs told local and international reporters that the judicial process against French officials accused of committing genocide crimes will be in steps, starting by a thorough investigation.

She stressed that France had political and military advisors to both the government and militia who perpetrated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In October, the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), released a list of 22 senior French military soldiers accused of deliberately aiding the planning of the genocide.

France-Rwanda relations continues to sour following the announcement of plans of the reopening of investigations by France into the shooting down of a plane carrying ex-genocidal regime president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Last month, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, while speaking at the Rwanda Judicial year event, warned revisiting the case of plane crash of former president Habyarimana would lead to diplomatic standoffs between Rwanda and France and it will be a "showdown."

Between 2006 and 2009, relations between Rwanda and France was completely broken off after a French judge claimed that top Rwandan officials were involved in the downing of the Habyarimana's plane -- an event widely seen as sparking the crisis.

France's role during the April-July 1994 genocide in Rwanda has for years been the subject of intense scrutiny and much controversy, with both Paris and Kigali trying to pin responsibility on the other for the genocide.

While Rwanda has repeatedly accused France of backing the genocidal regime government, allegedly arming and training the Hutu ethnic group perpetrators responsible for the mass murder during genocide, France has denied the accusations of murder, insisting its forces worked to protect the civilians.

[ Editor: Jiaming ]


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