When the French disarmed Rwanda’s critics of invaluable ammunition

The truth has long been known. We knew it even long before the Rwanda- commissioned Mutsinzi inquiry produced one of the most compelling pieces of research, with a decisive conclusion that the missile that brought down the plane carrying former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana had been launched from Kanombe barracks, controlled by the Presidential Guard. 
Part of the wreckage of the Dassault Falcon 50 9XR-NN. AP photo.
Part of the wreckage of the Dassault Falcon 50 9XR-NN. AP photo.

The truth has long been known. We knew it even long before the Rwanda- commissioned Mutsinzi inquiry produced one of the most compelling pieces of research, with a decisive conclusion that the missile that brought down the plane carrying former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana had been launched from Kanombe barracks, controlled by the Presidential Guard.  

And, now French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, after a four-year inquiry, that included a trip to Rwanda in September 2010, have vindicated Kigali – also concluding that the missiles were fired from Kanombe barracks, which effectively nullifies the ill-conceived narrative that the launch pad of the attack was a Masaka firm, located more than three kilometers from the area where the plane was blown up.

“The missile hit the left wing tank…This element alone invalidates the theory of an attack from the position of RPF in Masaka and validates that the shot came from the FAR-Kanombe Camp,” the French Trevidc Report, says in part. The two missiles that hit the Falcon 50 jet, moved from right to left, according to witnesses, came from side of the Kanombe Camp, it added.

This is the third time an inquiry concludes that the assailants were inside the camp, the first being a result of a UN sanctioned probe in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

From the moment it happened on the night of April 6, 1994, it was obvious that president Habyarimana had been a victim of the most virulent ideology within his camp, espoused by the all-powerful director of cabinet in the ministry of defence and key Genocide architect Col. Theoneste Bagosora.

The evil agenda of Col. Bagosora and company first became publically clear when he openly rejected a power sharing deal with the RPF, storming out of  peace negotiations in the Tanzanian city of Arusha in August 1993, declaring he was returning to Rwanda to prepare what he called ‘the Apocalypse’.

The evidence has always been there for everyone who cares about facts.

During one of its public hearings, some witnesses such as Gen. Laurent Munyakazi, told the Mutsinzi Commission of a reception at a Kigali hotel, two days before the assassination, in which Bagosora openly talked of a plan to eliminate his boss, with more witness accounts indicating that talk about impending attack on Habyarimana was rife at that time.

Jean-­Marie Vianney Gasana, a former member of an elite French-­trained commando squad based at Kanombe camp, told the inquiry: “We knew that Habyarimana was going to be killed. We did not know the identity of the person who was going to kill him, but we were familiar with the planning of his death. Extremist soldiers… were angry about the fact that, during the Arusha talks, he took the side of the Tutsis… From then on; they said they were prepared to carry out a coup d’état. You understand, therefore, that his death was not a surprise to us.”

The Mutsinzi Report represented a stark contrast from Jean-Louis Bruguiere’s – the now-retired and disgraced French judge, whose infamous report and resultant indictments of top Rwandan officials will remain an embarrassing stain on the French judicial system for many years to come. The Trevidic Report has delivered the final blow to Bruguiere’s so-called probe that was based exclusively on lies peddled by exiled Kigali opponents, including Genocide perpetrators and deniers, some of whom would later retract their testimonies or blame Bruguiere of distorting their accounts.
 
It is telling that for the whole eight years Bruguiere supposedly conducted his inquiry, he never set foot in Rwanda, nor interviewed any of the accused individuals or the RPF as an implicated organisation. His work was so baffling it did not need a rocket scientist to immediately realise he failed to observe very basic research procedures, which is why the Trevidic Inquiry was quick to quash his scandalous arrest warrants.

It was always going to be impossible for any genuine investigation to contradict the findings of such a highly meticulously conducted probe, as Mutsinzi Report (can be found on www.mutsinzireport.com), which analyzed thousands of documents and interviewed nearly 600 witnesses in a space of two years. The inquiry was compellingly thorough and had its findings certified by ballistics experts from the UK’s National Defence Academy.

Writing in The New Yorker, journalist and author Phillip Gourevitch said of the Mutsinzi Report: “[The report] draws on a number of previous international investigations and on a remarkable collection of more than five hundred interviews that its own investigators conducted with former officers of the Hutu Power regime and other eyewitnesses, who describe the events before, during, and after the assassination with convincing consistency.”

Thus, technically speaking, the Trevidic Report has not come as a surprise. It does not tell us new facts, rather demonstrates the willingness of a French probe team to stand for the truth and expose the shallow and malicious work of their predecessor probe team. They have delivered a strong vindication of what most Rwandans have always strongly believed, and most certainly drawn curtains on a case that had surprisingly dragged on forever.

Now that the French report has confirmed that the missile that killed two presidents – Habyarimana and his Burundian guest, Cyprien Ntaryamira – was not fired from the Masaka farm – a narrative promoted by genocide deniers and revisionists in an attempt to pin the RPF on the incident – but from a government military camp, there should be no more doubt that elements in Habyarimana’s camp conspired to and successfully eliminated their own commander-in-chief.


What is important now is that the RPF is out of question. Rwanda’s detractors can use any other ammunition against Kigali but they will live to curse the day Trevidic and Poux disarmed them of their biggest weapon, leaving them utterly naked.

Ends

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