Rwanda says Hutu radicals killed president in 1994

Hutu extremists shot down the plane carrying Habyarimana, whose assassination marked the start of the 100-day genocide in 1994.

Rwanda says Hutu radicals killed president in 1994

Hutu extremists shot down the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination marked the start of the 100-day genocide in 1994, a government report said on Monday.

The probe, set up by President Paul Kagame, said members of Habyarimana's inner circle planned his murder months before to scuttle a power-sharing deal with then-rebel Kagame and used it as a pretext for killing 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

"(The) assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords," it said.

Habyarimana was returning from peace talks in Tanzania accompanied by his Burundian counterpart and was due to swear in a transitional government and begin integration of Kagame's forces into the national army, the report said.

Mystery surrounding Habyarimana's murder has spawned a number of investigations in the past that have aroused international controversy.

In 2006 French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière accused Kagame's largely Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of shooting down the plane.

Kigali immediately severed relations with Paris, and accused Francois Mitterrand's government of funding and training those responsible for the slaughter. France denies any involvement in the genocide. The two countries restored ties in November.

According to the inquiry, Rwanda Armed Forces (FAR) stationed near Kigali airport shot down Habyarimana's private Falcon 50 jet using a pair of surface-to-air missiles.

"It is the opinion of the committee therefore that the ... plane of President Habyarimana was shot down from Kanombe Military Barracks by elements of the Rwanda Armed Forces which controlled that zone," the report said.

In his blog for the New Yorker, author and Rwanda expert Phillip Gourevitch said the depth and thoroughness of the investigation was more surprising than the findings themselves, which were likely to vindicate Kagame and serve government interests.

The report implicates genocide mastermind Theoneste Bagosora, leader of the armed wing of the Hutu Power movement, of planning the coup. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2008 by a U.N. court in Tanzania.

The panel, set up in 2007, compiled testimony from more than 500 witnesses, scoured thousands of documents and brought in ballistics experts from the United Kingdom.


Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2010, 14:39
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