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French court rules against fresh probe into plane downing that sparked Rwanda genocide


Rwandan refugees who fled the country during the genocide are pictured returning home in 2005. /UN Photo/John Isaac

A French court on Friday ruled against the launch of a new inquiry into 1994 assassination of Rwanda’s president that sparked a deadly genocide that killed at least 800,000 people.

Families of those who died when president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down near Kigali on 6 April 1994, but Rwanda has dismissed the French process as a “complete farce”.

The appeals court in Paris had been asked to revisit a 2018 decision to throw out a probe against nine members and former members of incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s entourage.

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After six months of deliberations, the court issued a 64-page judgement confirming the initial decision.

The shooting down of Habyarimana’s plane shattered a fragile peace process and sparked a three-month genocide that left 800,000 people dead.

Rwanda’s relations with France have been severed since the European country issued arrest warrants against current President Paul Kagame’s allies.

In November 2016, Kigali launched an inquiry into the alleged role of France in the genocide that lasted more than three months.

France has always denied the allegations and in 2019, President Emmanuel Macron formed a panel of historians and researchers to look into the claims.

In December 2018, French investigating magistrates closed the probe for lack of evidence.

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In an interview earlier this week, President Kagame said he wished for the matter to end.

“I believe that the past is behind us,” AFP quotes the president.

“Reopening a classified file is to invite problems,” he said. “If things are not definitively clarified, our relations are likely to suffer one way or another.”

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