France drops probe into attack that triggered Rwanda genocide | News | DW | 26.12.2018

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France drops probe into attack that triggered Rwanda genocide

An estimated 800,000 people were killed during the 100 days of bloodshed following the 1994 assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. Kigali accuses Paris of complicity in the genocide.

French judges have reportedly dropped a long-running investigation into the killing of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, which triggered countrywide violence and genocide in 1994.

A legal source on Wednesday told AFP news agency that investigative magistrates in France had decided not to pursue a case against nine Rwandan officials accused of involvement in Habyarimana's assassination.

The probe caused diplomatic tension between Rwanda and France, with President Paul Kagame's close aides charged in the French investigation.

In October, French prosecutors requested the probe be dismissed due to insufficient evidence against the suspects. Habyarimana's widow had called the French prosecutor's move to drop the probe "unacceptable" and "largely politically motivated."

France had launched the investigation into Habyarimana's killing in 1998 at the request of relatives of the French crew who died when a missile downed Habyarimana's plane.

Read more: Rwanda trial: A victory for international law?

Genocide and diplomatic row

During the 100-day rampage, which followed the assassination of Habyarimana — an ethnic Hutu — Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis.

The bloodshed in Kabarondo, near Rwanda's border with Tanzania, lasted until late April 1994.

Read more: Rwandan genocide survivor helping refugees heal: "We can grow from trauma"

It took until July of that year before Tutsi fighters of the now ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) led by President Kagame prevailed over Hutu extremists in the former Belgian colony.

A Rwandan court in 2009 found Hutu extremists guilty of killing Habyarimana.

Kigali has long accused Paris of complicity in the genocide by supporting the Hutu regime and training the militias that carried out attacks on Tutsis.

Diplomatic ties between Rwanda and France were broken off in 2006 in a row over who killed Habyarimana. Ties were restored in 2009.

In 2016, a court in Paris court jailed for life two former Rwandan mayors over a massacre in their village of Kabarondo in 1994. Some 2,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed while seeking refuge in a church — some by machetes.

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shs/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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