1 min 46Approximate reading time

RWANDA/FRANCE - FRENCH OFFICERS HAVE «INCULPATED THEMSELVES" BY TESTIFYING BEFORE THE ICTR (KAGAME)Arusha, February 12 2007 (FH) – In an interview published this week in the magazine Jeune Afrique, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame declares that the four French officers who testified in December and January before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in « Militaries I » have « inculpated themselves ».The 4 officers, whose names are printed in the magazine although they testified via video conference from The Hague and behind closed doors, were at the head of the Operation Turquoise that France set up in Rwanda in 1994 under the mandate of the United Nations. Kigali accuses Paris of having, with this operation, allowed the escape to Zaire of the leaders of the interim government under the governance of which the genocide was perpetrated. « They (the 4 officers) have inculpated themselves in a way », Kagame declares in his interview to Jeune Afrique l’Intelligent.The 4 men, three generals and one colonel, have testified for the defense in the trial called Militaries I which notably concerns the former director of cabinet for the Ministry of Defense, Col. Théoneste Bagosora, often presented as the « brain » of the genocide. This trial is now suspended and will resume next May with the closing arguments. Bagosora is judged alongside three other officers of the old Rwandan army: the ex-head of military operations of the Rwandan Armed Forces, brigadier general Gratien Kabiligi, the ex-commander of the Gisenyi military sector (north), lieutenant-colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and the former commander of the paracommando battalion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze.« Bagosora was the architect of the genocide of 1994, and Kabiligi his right-hand man. It is as if French high-ranking officers had come to Nuremberg to plead in the defense of Marshall Goering », Kagame accuses. Furthermore, in this long interview, the Rwandan president talks about his predecessor, Father Bizimungu who is serving a 15 year long prison term. « No one is above the law, Bizimungu has been judged for the charges justice pressed against him and not by me or because of me. Eveything in this case is clear », Kagame comments. « Presidential pardon? I have received no such request in his case. I wouldn’t make this kind of decision simply because a journalist or a NGO demands it », the Rwandan head of state adds.As to the threats against witnesses in genocide, the President of Rwanda answers that he is doing « the maximum ». « We are doing everything humanely possible to avoid the murder of persons who have been brave enough to come and testify but some things can escape our vigilance ». « True, murders can happen, as they do everyday in New York », he adds. ER/PB© Hirondelle News Agency