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World

Rwanda Names 22 French Army Officers Accused of Genocide

The list published by Rwanda names Gen. Jacques Lanxade, who was the special chief of staff for French President François Mitterrand

This file photo shows skulls and bones of some victims of the Rwandan Genocide, killed while looking for refuge in a Catholic church in Ntarama, Rwanda, photo: AP/Ben Curtis
11 months ago

KIGALI, Rwanda – Rwanda’s government on Monday said 22 French senior military officers helped to plan and execute the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

The French officers were involved both as perpetrators and accomplices, Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight against Genocide said in a statement Monday.

“The refusal to end the judicial investigation and pronounce a dismissal against Rwandan leaders who ended the genocide is an attempt to conceal their responsibilities,” the statement said, referring to France.

The publication of the list, including four French generals, comes after French investigators this month reopened an inquiry into the plane crash that killed a Rwandan president and sparked the genocide.

The list published by Rwanda names Gen. Jacques Lanxade, who was the special chief of staff for French President François Mitterrand from April 1989 to April 1991 and army chief of staff from April 1991 to September 1995.

According to Rwanda, Lanxade received reports of abuses by the Rwandan army but maintained assistance that included the provision of military equipment and trainers. Other senior army officers cited include Gen. Christian Quesnot, Gen. Jean-Pierre Huchon and Gen. Jean-Claude Lafourcade.

The cause of the crash has been a contentious issue. The plane had a French crew.

Militants from Rwanda’s Hutu majority blamed minority Tutsis for the death of then-President Juvénal Habyarimana, sparking the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Rwandan government insists the plane was shot down by extremists who opposed the government’s efforts to forge a peace deal with Tutsi-led rebels who had invaded Rwanda from Uganda, where they had lived as refugees.

A French investigation completed in 2012 found that the missile fire came from a military camp.

But Kagame, the leader of rebels who ended the genocide, has been accused by a prominent Rwandan exile of ordering that the plane be shot down.

French judges in charge of the investigation have filed an international request to hear the exile, former Rwandan military chief Kayumba Nyamwasa. That decision angered Kagame, who said France should be on trial for its alleged role in the genocide.

Nyamwasa told press agencies in 2012 that he has evidence Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane.

Nyamwasa, once a close ally of Kagame, now lives in South Africa and has survived multiple assassination attempts that he blames on the Rwandan government.

IGNATIUS SSUUNA

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