French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière ignored key elements that could have led to the conclusion that former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was killed by members of his camp, during the former’s investigation into the 1994 fatal attack on the president’s plane, an inquiry by two Belgian journalists has concluded.
The journalists, Catherine Lorsignol of Belgian RTBF television, and Philippe Brewaeys of Le Soir magazine, argue that the omission was apparently intended to cover up France’s role in the Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of at least a million people in a space of 100 days.
Findings of their joint inquiry, contained in a book and documentary film, are expected to be released early this month.
The journalists concluded that Bruguière acted out of the urge by some members of the French security apparatus such as intelligence officials, military officials, and politicians to cover up their links with the former genocidal regime in Rwanda and their subsequent role in the Genocide.
In 2006, ex-anti-terrorism judge Bruguière (top) accused members of the current government in Rwanda of involvement in the assassination of Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira, and issued arrest warrants against the accused based on the findings of his controversial investigation.
For Lorsignol, the French manipulation of the facts of the downing of the plane had started right after the plane was shot down and the French judge’s flawed probe was a continuation of that “intoxication” of the public opinion.
“I think there are two hypotheses; either there is an active French complicity in the attack (of the former president), or the proximity of France with authors of the attack and the (subsequent) genocide incited her to blur tracks in the benefit of her allies,” she concluded.
The journalist’s film, Rwanda. Une intoxication française (French for, Rwanda. A French intoxication), will be first broadcast on Canal+ television on April 8 and RTBF on April 10. The book, entitled, Rwanda 1994, Noirs et Blancs menteurs (Rwanda 1994, Black and White Liars), was authored by Philippe Brewaeys and will hit shelves on Saturday.
Brewaeys’ Black and White Liars criticises the judge for undertaking his probe with a predetermined position to accuse senior officials of the current government in Rwanda of downing the Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 plane despite several documented evidence that the then Rwanda Patriotic Front fighters had no access to the area where missiles that downed the plane were shot from.
Place of launch
In his book, Brewaeys shows how reports by Belgian military intelligence officials, who were dispatched in Rwanda in April 1994, had already said “shots responsible for the accident (rockets or ground-air missiles) had come from around the Kanombe Military Camp, which was under the tight control of Habyarimana’s troops.
Current French anti-terrorist judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, who replaced Bruguière on the plane crash file, have also identified Kanombe Barracks as the launch site of the missiles that brought down the former president’s plane.
The plane was shot down as it approached Kigali International Airport as Habyarimana returned from Tanzania.
“My intimate conviction is that this was a Franco-Rwandan affair destined to ruin the Arusha agreements. For extremists, these agreements meant the takeover of power in the medium term by Tutsis. They absolutely didn’t want them,” Brewaeys’ upcoming book quotes colonel André Vincent of the Belgian military intelligence, SGRS, as having told a Belgian military court in May, 1994.
The latest revelations and judges Trévidic and Poux’s findings corroborate the conclusions of Rwanda’s 2009 inquiry—by a panel led by former Chief Justice Jean Mutsinzi—into the attack.
A French court last month rejected a petition by Habyarimana’s widow, Agathe, challenging the findings of judges Trévidic and Poux’s investigation.