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France court gives Rwanda ex-president's widow extension to defend against extradition

The Administrative Tribunal of Versailles [official website, in French] on Tuesday cancelled an order refusing a residency permit to Agathe Habyarimana, widow of assasinated Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana [Britannica profile], ordering that her application be reconsidered. The reconsideration gives Habyarimana more time to defend against extradition attempts [AFP report] by the Rwandan government. The court denied her residency permit [RFI report] in July, considering her a threat to public order. Habyarimana, who has lived in France for 15 years, was arrested [JURIST report] in March by French authorities 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 accusing Habyarimana of helping to plan the 1994 Rwandan 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, Habyarimana was transported from Rwanda by the French military and has since been living outside Paris, although the French government has twice refused [2007 text, PDF, in French; 2009 text, PDF, in French] to grant her asylum as a refugee. Her arrest occurred only a few days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Rwanda and announced that his government would cooperate [JURIST report] in finding those accused of genocide.

In January, the Rwandan government released a report concluding that the assassination of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists [JURIST report]. 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, 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.

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