One year after the dismissal order made by the French anti-terrorist investigative judges, Jean-Marc Herbaut and Nathalie Poux, in favor of nine relatives of the Rwandan President Paul Kagame implicated in the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana, the April 6, 1994, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal studied, Wednesday, January 15, the appeal brought by the families of the victims of the attack.
The court of appeal, meeting for the occasion behind closed doors, must communicate its decision to a ” later date “.
► What happened on April 6, 1994?
The Rwandan President’s Falcon 50, piloted by a French crew, was shot down by a missile as it approached Kigali Airport. All passengers are killed, including President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira. The Rwandan president had just agreed to implement the peace agreement signed in Arusha in the summer of 1993 but which he had not yet fully implemented.
In the aftermath of this attack, the Rwandan security apparatus attacks the Tutsis and Hutus of the opposition. Tutsis are victims of genocide, the last of the XXe century. At the same time, Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the armed movement made up mainly of Rwandan Tutsis exiled to Uganda to escape the persecution they have suffered since 1959, goes on the offensive. He took Kigali on July 4, 1994.
► A court case launched in 1998
In 1998, a judicial investigation had been opened in France after the complaint by the families of the crew. The first judge seized of this file, Jean-Louis Bruguière, had favored the hypothesis of an attack committed by the RPF. He had designated Paul Kagame as the main responsible, ensuring that for him, “ the physical elimination of President Habyarimana became essential from October 1993 as the only means to achieve his political ends “, as it happens “A total victory, and this at the cost of the massacre of the so-called” interior “Tutsis” “.
But his successors were not on this line. In January 2012, in the expert report of judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, who succeeded judge Bruguière, the trail of an attack perpetrated by Rwandan extremists to get rid of a president deemed too accommodating with the RPF, is no longer excluded.
In December 2017, judge Jean-Marc Herbaut, who succeeded Marc Trévedic, and Nathalie Proux decided to close the investigation. In the dismissal order issued on December 21, 2018, they explain that they made this decision ” in the absence of sufficient charges ” against the relatives of President Paul Kagame.
The civil party hopes to relaunch the investigations, or even obtain a hypothetical trial at the assizes. The lawyer for President Juvenal Habyarimana’s widow, Agathe Habyarimana, hopes to reopen the investigation so that French justice can consult a confidential report dated 2003 from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which attributed responsibility for this attack on Paul Kagame.
► Judi Rever’s thesis
The existence of this report was made public by a Canadian journalist, Judi Rever, in a controversial book published in English in 2018. Based on this confidential report which she does not reproduce in her book, In Praise of Blood, The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (Penguin Random House), Judi Rever claims that relatives of Paul Kagame allegedly shot down President Habyarimana’s plane.
She accuses the RPF of having infiltrated the Interahamwe Hutu militias and of having participated directly in the genocide of the Tutsis. Following journalist Pierre Péan, who died in July 2019, she takes up the old thesis of a double genocide, that of the Tutsis by the Hutu extremists and that of the Hutus by the RPF. A theory rejected by the majority of specialists in the subject, in France and abroad, judging the work of the Canadian journalist “negationist”. Fayard editions gave up publishing the French version of this book in March 2019.