The release of the long-awaited report on the April 6, 1994 shooting down of a plane carrying former president Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira, has exposed the extent to which the perpetrators and their supporters went to cover their tracks.
For a decade and a half, mysteries have surrounded the affair, especially the drama of the missing Flight Data Recorder (black box).
The most ridiculous was one, Paul Barril, a former French Intelligence Officer and advisor to Habyarimana’s widow, who displayed to TV cameras, a scrap of black metal purporting to be the remains of the black box.
The disinformation campaign had kicked off, but on a wrong footing.
“Black boxes” are actually orange in colour for easy recovery in case of an air mishap. When the plotters realised their blunder, they changed course and reported that the real devise was in the care of the UN. But what was found in UN stores belonged to a Concord and not the presidential Falcon 50!
The SAM 16 missiles tubes allegedly ‘recovered’ from Masaka hill, the so-called launch site for the missiles, had their firing mechanisms still intact. It turns out the FAR planted the missiles at the scene.
Ballistics and avionic experts from Cranbery University and the National Defence Academy in the UK put the final nail in the elaborate fabrications’ coffin: The missiles used to bring down the plane were actually fired from inside Kanombe military camp, and not Masaka Hill. They were not even SAM 16s at all!
The not-so-creative distortions invented to hide the true authors of the crime have once again hit a brick wall. What next will they come up with?