PARIS - The case built by former French Judge, Jean Louis Bruguière, against nine senior Rwandan government officials, is on the verge of collapse, French officials have intimated.
The current issue of the French weekly, Le Nouvel Observateur, has quoted the Prosecutor of Paris, as saying that the death knell had sounded.
“We thought we were approaching the end of the case, now we have to start all over again”, confessed Jean-Claude Marin.
“We are faced with a dismantled Lego.”
The reasons behind the latest twist to the saga are new revelations that have poked massive holes in the case, calling into doubt the credibility of Bruguière’s investigations as a whole.
Journalist Christophe Boltanski, alleged that the French judge built his case under the shadow of the French secret service, DST, with which he had a cosy relationship that spanned over decades.
“He was the first judge to use the DST to carry out investigations for him instead of the criminal or judicial police,” he said, adding that the whole plot was hatched at the French Embassy in Kampala in 2003.
Boltanski even spoke of France’s star witness who later turned out to be its Achilles Heel; Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza.
A former Lieutenant in the army, Ruzibiza, had claimed that he was present when a plot was hatched involving the shooting down of the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. He then went on to name several officers of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) as his accomplices.
But in a dramatic turn of events last year, Ruzibiza dropped the bombshell! He had been manipulated by the French secret service into lying; he was just a simple nurse during the war and was not at any time in Kigali when the incident happened.
“His French contact offered him a visa’ on one condition; ‘you must talk to a judge’.” A visa to Europe was a godsend and he accepted to cooperate.
Le Nouvel Observateur reports that Ruzibiza was received on the doorsteps of the plane at Roissy airport by French police who took him straight to the Ministry of Interior; there he met with Commander Pierre Payebien, who had worked with Bruguiere since the 80s.
He had all the documents ready and was accompanied by Genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga’s son-in-law, Fabien Singaye, who was working with Payebien and served as interpreter
Ruzibiza told the magazine that he then realised that he could not stop the machine and “had to think very fast.”
“But if I gave nothing to the judge, he would chop off my head. So I tried to hang on to the version and names that Payebien gave me and tell a good story from that,” Ruzibiza confesses.
“I could see what he wanted; to say that the RPF shot down the plane to provoke the massacres. They already had a theory, all they needed now was an actor- me.” He was then taken to Judge Bruguiere’s officers where he stayed for about half an hour.
“He asked very long questions which had to be answered by a simple yes or no. In the end, I signed,” said the former soldier.
Boltanski continues to reveal that in autumn 2006, Bruguière was approaching the end of his mandate and he was eyeing the post of head of the intelligence or police.
He needed to boost his chances with a dramatic end to his carrier as a magistrate, hence riding on the back of the genocide.
He had no qualms in taking a shortcut to achieve his aims. Le Nouvel Observateur had this to say: “In his investigations, judge Bruguière asserts that he had identified the weapons used in the crime: Two SAM 16 missiles found at the scene of the crime that were part of a consignment the USSR sold to Uganda. But the problem was that they had disappeared.
The Judge then relies on photos of two missile tubes that had earlier been rejected by the French parliamentary commission which suspected that they had been ‘manipulated’. The missiles still had their covers to suggest that they had never been fired.
“But even more curious, the photos had been found in General Jean-Pierre Huchon’s safe. He was the head of the military cooperation mission, yet he had sworn before the parliament that he knew nothing of the affair. The five photos were handed to him in May 1994 by officers of the former Rwandan army who had come to request for arms because of a UN embargo.”
Louis Gautier, the former advisor on Defence and Strategic Affairs to former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin criticized Bruguiere’s cloak -and-dagger stuff.
“He should have kept his distance from the intelligence services, but it was a difficult endeavour because of the links he had woven with the services for very many years,” remarked Gautier.
Though Bruguière is now long gone from his Paris office, his contested investigations have already claimed some victims Rose Kabuye and diplomacy.
Rwanda cut off diplomatic ties with France in 2006 as a result of the indictments.
Kabuye was arrested last November in Germany while on official duty leading to Rwanda expelling the German Ambassador, Christian Clages, and recalling its own envoy from Bonn.
Kabuye has since been released on bail as she awaits what many say is a difficult trial for the French prosecution.