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France denies Rwanda arrest warrants politically motivated

[JURIST] French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy [official profile] said Sunday that the issuance of arrest warrants for nine senior Rwandan government officials relating to the 1994 plane crash of President Juvenal Habyariman [Wikipedia profile] was simply a judicial act by anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere [BBC profile] and was not a political act endorsed by the French government. In a radio interview Douste-Blazy also expressed regret [Xinhua report] over Rwanda's decision to completely sever diplomatic ties [JURIST report] with Paris over the warrants, and a recommendation that Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website] face trial [JURIST report] before a UN tribunal. On Friday the Rwandan government ordered the French ambassador to leave the country in 24 hours after previously recalling its own ambassador from Paris [Reuters report].

Bruguiere could not issue a warrant for Kagame as he is protected by diplomatic immunity under French law. Kagame has denied any involvement in the downing of his predecessor's plane and last week derided Bruguiere's tactics [JURIST report] as "bullying and arrogant." Reuters has more.

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