French judge recommends Rwanda president face war crimes trial

[JURIST] French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere [BBC profile] has recommended that Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile] stand trial for the 1994 killing of former president Juvenal Habyarimana [Wikipedia profile], which sparked the country's genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] in which some 800,000 people died. Kagame has denied any involvement in shooting down the plane that carried Habyarimana, leading to the former president's death. Rwanda's justice minister rejected Bruguiere's recommendation [BBC report] Tuesday, saying that the judge was acting on "unfounded" gossip. French prosecutors are investigating the case because the plane's crew was French. Last month, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] denied a request to hear testimony from Bruguiere who was expected to implicate Kagame for ordering the attack on Habyarimana. The tribunal has also refused to give a 1997 UN report to Bruguiere which allegedly discusses Kagame's involvement in the former president's murder. The London Telegraph has more. Le Monde has local coverage.

Meanwhile French prosecutors have authorized arrest warrant for nine senior Rwandan officials who Bruguiere claims were involved in Habyarimana's death. The list includes Rwandan Armed Forces [Wikipedia backgrounder] chief James Kabarebe, army chief of staff Charles Kayonga, and other officials with close contact to Kagame, according to French court officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Kagame is immune from arrest as a head of state. AP has more.

 

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