MP calls for review of Bagosora’s trial

Following the release of a report on the shooting down of the plane that carried former President Juvenal Habyarimana, a lawmaker has called for the revision of the trial of Col Theoneste Bagosora. The call is attributed to the fact that the report, commissioned by French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, concluded that the shooter of the Falcon jet, which also had on board Burundian President, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was based at Kanombe Military Barracks.
L-R: Kamanda, Kalisa
L-R: Kamanda, Kalisa

Following the release of a report on the shooting down of the plane that carried former President Juvenal Habyarimana, a lawmaker has called for the revision of the trial of Col Theoneste Bagosora.

The call is attributed to the fact that the report, commissioned by French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, concluded that the shooter of the Falcon jet, which also had on board Burundian President, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was based at Kanombe Military Barracks.

Evariste Kalisa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said that report shows that the plane was downed by soldiers who were at the barracks, where elements of the former presidential guard and other elite troops of the then government were based.

According to Kalisa, the base was under the command of Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the architect of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and a former Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Defence.

“The truth is out again. Those who shot the plane so that they can get an excuse of starting the killing will no longer trade lies to the world. They shot the plane so as to tell people that ‘the President you so loved has been killed. You should kill the Tutsi’ and this is another lesson to the ICTR which has continuously delayed cases,” Kalisa said.

He was referring to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which last month reduced, on appeal, the sentence of Bagosora from life to 35 years imprisonment.

“It (ICTR) delayed in trying Bagosora’s case. It spent years and years, and instead of conducting an objective investigation, like the French have done, to show where the truth is, they instead tended to make him innocent indicating that he was not involved in the planning [of the Genocide],” the lawmaker charged.

“Basing on this report, they [ICTR] should actually even review the case because it is clear that as he headed the army at the time, the soldiers played a role in downing the plane. It is a problem as he was exonerated.”

Meanwhile, other lawmakers welcomed the findings by the French experts.

MPs note that ascertaining those behind the fatal attack more than vindicates Rwanda’s long-held position on the circumstances surrounding events of April 1994 especially as the report erases all forms of doubt.

In April 1994, the plane crash served as an excuse for key perpetrators to execute a meticulously planned Genocide against the Tutsi, the lawmakers held.

MP Charles Kamanda, said that the French team, unlike the French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who accused members of the current government of involvement in the assassination of Habyarimana, travelled to Rwanda to unearth the truth.

 “What is particularly important is that this is the truth. These people came here and conducted an objective investigation, unlike Bruguiere who doesn’t even know Rwanda, where everything happened,” Kamanda said.

“It is also a sign that the country is progressively walking in the path of reviving proper relations”.

On his part, Kalisa said that he could not comment on that report without mentioning previously related issues such as the French judge Bruguiere.

He noted that he could not ignore issues such as the involvement of the former French captain Paul Barril and the missing black box.

 “Otherwise, decent and honest Rwandans already know that the people who downed that plane were not the soldiers of the RPF. People also know that those who made those accusations intended to cover up as well as deny the Genocide, especially refute that it was prepared well in advance. They wanted to say that the plane was shot by the RPF and that it was the RPF that caused the Genocide,” Kalisa said.

“That is completely wrong because the Genocide was prepared, even before the plane was downed. Every Rwandan knows that”.

He stressed that even when the Mutsinzi report, by an independent Committee of Experts created in April 2007 to establish the truth regarding the circumstances of the crash of the Falcon-50 airplane, established that the missile that downed the plane was fired from Kanombe Barracks, people like judge Bruguiere and captain Barril had a hidden agenda.

“There is nothing quite unusual about the findings, but what is good is that Rwandans who didn’t have a stand, or others who were being fed with lies on this matter, now know the truth. This new report will clear a lot of confusion and set the record straight”.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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