All eyes on French inquiry

30 March 2011 by Franck Petit

“We want the people responsible for the genocide found and punished”, declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 25 February 2010 in Kigali, Rwanda. The stakes were high. The visit marked the resumption of diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda, three years after allegations against President Paul Kagamé by the French inquiry into the 1994 attack on the then Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana. The visit was also the first by a French head of state since the genocide.

In demanding “proper management of the truth”, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was clear: relations between Paris and Kigali could only resume if the French authorities shelve the assassination case and move forward with the prosecution of “genocide suspects” living in France. Over a year later, on the eve of commemorations of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Kigali is closely monitoring judicial efforts by Paris.

On 14 April 2011, a bill will be sent to the French Senate, for the creation of a judicial division specialising in genocide and crimes against humanity. A hearing into the case involving Callixte Mbarushimana in France, for crimes connected to the genocide is scheduled to take place a week earlier, on 7 April. He has been handed over to the International Criminal Court to face charges over alleged crimes in DR Congo.

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