Investigations and Doubts

IN 1997, as a young student leader, I joined a group of over fifty counterparts from a neighbouring country on a study tour of Rwanda, a country that was still fresh from Genocide, which claimed more than one million people.
Paul Ntambara
Paul Ntambara

IN 1997, as a young student leader, I joined a group of over fifty counterparts from a neighbouring country on a study tour of Rwanda, a country that was still fresh from Genocide, which claimed more than one million people. As the bus veered to the unfamiliar right side of the road at Gatuna border, I savoured every moment along the route.

As the rest of the party shouted on top of their voices, many under the influence of the new found beer; Primus, all my five senses, and the sixth were in overdrive as I savoured the heights, sights, sounds and smell of my homeland.

The scars of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were fresh; Kigali was largely a ghost town. Just as we began to wonder when we would be getting to the capital, we were told that we were in the centre of the city; kwa Rubangura.

At the former hotel Kiyovu, during a briefing by government officials, we asked questions about how the Genocide was possible, how it all started, how it was organised and executed and who could have been behind the downing of  the Falcon 50 jet that carried Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Rwanda and Burundi respectively.

The officials did not mince their words; they said that this was the work of Hutu extremists who were not pleased with the goings-on in Arusha, Tanzania where a power sharing agreement was being negotiated. This is the message that I conveyed on my return to college at the Monday morning student assembly. The usually rowdy students looked on spellbound as I narrated the horrendous story of a shattered nation.

Fast forward to 2006, Judge Jean Louis Bruguière, an investigating French magistrate conducts an investigation to supposedly get to the bottom of something we knew all along. He went on to publish a report implicating Rwandan government officials in the 1994 downing of the plane that was carrying the two presidents and the rest of the crew. On the heels of this report, Bruguière issued nine international warrants for their arrest.

Then came the Mutsinzi report, which should have laid the question of who downed the plane to rest. The probe team with the aid of ballistics experts confirmed that RPF forces definitely did not shoot down the plane. However, the world was still not convinced. Once again, Rwanda opened itself up to another investigation by French judges Marc Trevidic and Nathalie Poux. The investigation reveals that the downing of the plane was the work of assassins that who were waiting within the heavily fortified Kanombe Military camp. This should have finally put the allegations peddled by some critics that the shooting down of the plane was the work of the Rwanda Patriotic Army to rest.

So where does this investigation leave the likes of Bruguière, Theogene Rudasingwa, the latter who claims that the current Head of State confessed to him that he had ordered the downing of the plane? Well, every village (country) has its own mad man.

burkepal@gmail.com

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