World Bulletin / News Desk
The genocide in Rwanda, which was backed by the government at the time, was allegedly facilitated and fueled by French diplomats and soldiers who provided training and arms to the country’s militia, according to the government.
Although the French government has desisted from commenting on the development, Rwandan Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza said in a statement late Tuesday the latest inquiry will focus on 20 French individuals.
“The inquiry for now is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the prosecution authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them to enable the authority to make conclusions whether the concerned individuals should be formally charged or not,” Muhumuza said.
“The relevant French government authorities have been formally engaged. The Office of the Prosecutor General expects that reciprocal judicial cooperation will be availed throughout this inquiry by the relevant French government agencies and authorities,” he added.
A source at the French embassy, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said: “I cannot say much on the issue but we all have to wait and see the developments. But in my view, I don’t think there is anything in place that forces the 20 officials to answer to the allegations at this stage.”
A document prepared by the government accuses French officials who were accredited to Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, and several military officers.
Additionally, a government probe concluded there was “sufficient evidence” to bring criminal proceedings against 33 French officials on genocide charges.
Observers believe the government action appears to have been made after French prosecutors blamed President Paul Kagame and his party of assassinating the then Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana -- a point in history that allegedly sparked the genocide against the Tutsi people.
On Oct. 31, the Rwandan government released a list of 22 former and serving French army officials that Kigali claimed played a role in the 1994 genocide.
Topping the list was "General" [sic, Adm.] Jacques Lanxade, former chief of French Defense Forces, who is accused of providing arms to the Rwandan army at the time of the genocide, even with knowledge that massacres against Tutsi were being organized by the armed forces.
In September, diplomatic relations between the two countries hit rock bottom when France announced it would reopen a fresh inquiry into the 1994 shooting down of the presidential jet that carried Habyarimana, together with the Burundian president and French army officials.
Rwanda has to date rejected a designated French ambassador since September last year, although the embassy in Kigali remains operational with diplomatic staff.