French prosecutors have reportedly recommended dismissal of the charges against a group of current and former Rwandan officials suspected of involvement in the assassination of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana.
Habyarimana, a member of the Hutu ethnic majority, died in April 1994 when the plane in which he was traveling was shot down near the Rwandan capital. The assassination marked a turning point in the struggle for domestic control of the country and was followed by a genocide that resulted in the loss of an estimated 800,000 people, most of them members of the Tutsi minority.
France opened an investigation into the plane crash at the request of families of the French flight crew. On Saturday, a journalist for Radio France International tweeted a photo of a court filing dated October 10 in which the Paris Office of the Public Prosecutor recommended the dismissal of charges against a group of close allies of Paul Kagame, who led an armed resistance to the Hutu government and has served as President of Rwanda since 2000. The suspects face charges of murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, aiding and abetting murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. Pursuant to the French code of criminal procedure, the decision to dismiss or retain the charges rests with the investigating judge.
Questions surrounding the plane crash that killed Habyarimana and the role of France in the atrocities that followed have been a source of ongoing diplomatic tension. In December an official with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected assertions that France had not done enough to facilitate the search for the truth, citing 30 proceedings initiated by French authorities in connection with the genocide. According to the official, 22 of those proceedings were still pending.