French judges definitively close Habyarimana plane shooting probe

French judges Jean-Marc Herbaut and Nathalie Poux have definitively closed the investigation in the shooting down of the plane that carried ex-president Juvénal Habyarimana.

The judges, according to available information, decided to drop the controversial case that implicated nine Rwandan officials due to lack of evidence.

The investigation stems from indictments issued by another French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, in 2006.

Bruguière issued the indictments without visiting the crime scene nor having interviewed any of the indicated officials.

The move has consistently been castigated by the government and individual experts as politically motivated.

By implication, the latest development means that there is no case to answer by any of the nine individuals who were indicted by Bruguière.

Reacting to the development, Foreign Affairs Minister and Government Spokesperson Dr Richard Sezibera said this brings to an end a two-decade attempt to obstruct justice for victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

All the nine people were senior members of the Rwanda Patriotic Army, which ironically stopped the Genocide.

The indictments were seen as a diversion by some members of the French establishment to cover up their role in the Genocide in which over a million people were killed.

“We welcome this decision, which brings to an end a brazen attempt over two decades to obstruct justice for the Genocide against the Tutsi, and prevent accountability for both the perpetrators and their wilful accomplices,” Sezibera is quoted in the statement as saying.

The case has been handled by three lots of judges over the years – first, Jean-Louis Bruguière, then Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, and then Jean-Marc Herbaut and Nathalie Poux.

It has been a long-held view by several researchers that the Bruguière's indictments were intended to humiliate Rwandan leaders and absolve the real culprits.

Habyarimana’s plane was shot down on the night of April 6, 1994 over the environs of the current Kigali International Airport as he returned from a foreign trip.

That same night, the clearly organised Genocide against the Tutsi was launched, which would be stopped by the RPA troops some 90 days later, but after a million people had been killed.

The inquiry by French judges Trévidic and Poux established that owing to a thorough ballistics analysis, there was no way the plane could have been downed from the area where RPA controlled.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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