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Genocide in Rwanda: new dismissal of the role of the French army

Genocide in Rwanda: new dismissal of the role of the French army
Rwandan Hutus salute the departure of French troops from Cyangugu, in southwestern   -  
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The Parisian investigating judges responsible for investigations into the inaction accused of the French army during the Bisesero massacres in Rwanda in 1994 have issued a new order of general dismissal, an expected decision after an initial decision to abandon the prosecutions in 2022.

In this case, the associations Survie, Ibuka, FIDH, and six survivors of Bisesero , civil parties, accused the French military-humanitarian mission Turquoise and France of "complicity in genocide".

They accused him of having knowingly abandoned the Tutsi civilians taking refuge in the hills of Bisesero, in western Rwanda, for three days, allowing the massacre of hundreds of them to take place by the genocidaires, from June 27 to 30, 1994.

According to an order issued on Tuesday and consulted on Wednesday by AFP, two investigating magistrates from the crimes against humanity unit of the Paris judicial court concluded that the prosecution of the five soldiers targeted in the procedure but who were never been indicted.

"During the events of Bisesero, the French military forces deployed in Rwanda (...) did not become complicit by abstention in the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Tutsi civilians", conclude the judges of instruction.

Historical controversy

The civil parties appealed this dismissal order. This file reflects the historical controversy over the objectives of this mission deployed in Rwanda under a UN mandate to stop the genocide of the Tutsi.

Civil parties have been demanding for years a trial not only against the military, but also against members of the entourage of former President François Mitterrand, in power during the genocide, and never targeted by the investigation.

In September 2022, the two magistrates had already issued an order dismissing the case, ensuring that their investigation, formally closed in July 2018, had not established the direct participation of French military forces in these abuses, nor their complicity through aid or assistance to genocidaires, or even by abstention.

The civil parties immediately appealed this decision, ensuring in form that the judges had made a procedural error and, in substance, that they had not taken sufficient account of the summary, published at the end of April 2021, of the report of the so-called Duclert Commission. In this report, historians pointed out France's "profound failure" during these massacres.

The Paris Court of Appeal ruled in their favor on the procedural grounds on June 21 and returned the case to the investigating magistrates. The civil parties hoped that they would continue their investigations and had requested the hearing of the historian Vincent Duclert.

Duclert Report

But the judges rejected their requests on Tuesday, stressing that "the documents cited in reference by the authors of the report (Duclert) in support of their findings, in their vast majority, already appear in the proceedings or are found, in the documents of the 'judicial information, equivalents or resonance' .

"At the end of all these years of investigations, which have ended today, a second time, in a dismissal of the case, it has been established that no criminal responsibility of the French army and its soldiers can be sought ", underlined Me Emmanuel Bidanda, lawyer for Jacques Rosier, head of special operations present in Bisesero, and Me Pierre-Olivier Lambert, counsel for General Jean-Claude Lafourcade, the head of Turquoise.

According to them, "the relentlessness of certain associations of plaintiffs has become absurd: it amounts to exploiting the victims of the genocide in an attempt to demonstrate a responsibility of the French army in which no one believes anymore. "

For Me Eric Plouvier, representing the Survie association, on the other hand, "the judges persist in their denial and their refusal to draw conclusions from the Duclert report pointing out the institutional failures around the President of the Republic François Mitterrand".

“The investigations would have made it possible to know what impact these dysfunctions had on the abandonment and death of hundreds of Tutsi in Bisesero,” he added.

According to the UN, massacres throughout Rwanda left more than 800,000 dead in Rwanda between April and July 1994, mainly among the Tutsi minority.

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