Rwanda ex-president's widow arrested in France on genocide allegations

[JURIST] The widow of assassinated Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana [Britannica profile], Agathe Habyarimana, was arrested Tuesday in France on suspicions of complicity in genocide and was later released on bail. French police complied with an international arrest warrant issued by the Rwandan government [official website] that accused Habyarimana of helping to plan the 1994 genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] between Hutus and Tutsis in which more than 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, were killed in the span of 100 days. After her husband's assassination, which led to an escalation of violence that sparked the genocide, Agathe Habyarimana was transported from Rwanda by the French military [BBC report] and has since been living outside Paris, although the French government [official website, in French] has twice refused [2007 text, PDF, in French; 2009 text, PDF, in French] to grant her asylum as a refugee. Her arrest comes only a few days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, JURIST news archive] visited Rwanda and said that he would cooperate [JURIST report] in finding those accused of genocide.

In January, the Rwandan government released a report [JURIST report] concluding that the assassination of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists. An independent committee of experts, established [JURIST report] in April 2007 by Rwanda's Tutsi President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile], found that Hutu extremists, including members of the president's own family, were opposed to the 1993 Arusha Accords [text, PDF], a power-sharing agreement supported by Habyarimana, designed to end his 20-year monopoly on power. The report asserts that Hutus used the assassination as a pretext for the 1994 genocide. As of May 2009, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive], established for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during the Rwandan genocide, has rendered judgments or has trials underway [completion strategy report, PDF] for 68 suspects, with six suspects awaiting trials, one retrial, and 13 fugitives.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.