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Arusha, January 12th 2007 (FH) - France has announced the rejection of the asylum demand filed by Agathe Habyarimana, wife of the late President of Rwanda assassinated in 1994, due to her potential participation in the genocide, the Agence France Presse (AFP) reports. This decision of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) was issued on January 4th. Mrs. Habyarimana has asked to appear later this month, on the 25th, before the Refugee Appeals Board (RAB) which will then confirm or infirm the decision. Of all the cases brought before the RAB, about 40% are reexamined. Then the board will or won’t ask the State Council to reconsider its decision or. In the year 2005 the OFPRA, which is subordinated to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, examined 42 578 demands for asylum. 8.2% (4184) of these asylum seekers were accepted. Nearly all the demands that were rejected were then brought before the RAB, which gave a positive answer to 9587 cases. Since 2000, approximately 18% of asylum seekers have been granted the status of refugee, according to a recent investigation of the newspaper Le Monde. The demand of Mrs. Habyarimana, who took refuge in France with her children in April 1994, a few days after her husband was killed, had been filed in July 2004. The OFPRA justifies its decision by putting forward the fact that in the course of her interview, Mrs. Habyarimana had denied the reality of the genocide which, according to UN estimates, made 800,000 victims in the Tutsi community. One of Mrs. Habyarimana’s attorneys, Mr. Philippe Meilhac, interrogated by the AFP, said he thinks this decision constitutes "a real indictment" and stated that no charge had been brought against his client at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This information hasn’t been confirmed by the ICTR where several indictments remain secret; three are placed under seal. In the first years of the Tribunal’s existence, an investigation would have been opened concerning the participation of Mrs. Habyarimana to the genocide, and dropped in the absence of evidence, an unofficial source inside the ICTR has revealed. Mrs. Habyarimana’s brother, Protais Zigiranirazo, is currently on trial before the ICTR; he is notably accused of having been a member of the small presidential circle called the Akazu. Another unofficial source has reported that his case may see new twists and turns. Mrs. Habyarimana, whose appearance at a reception held in 2004 by the International Organization of la Francophonie in Paris had triggered wild protest from the Rwandan authorities, took her time before bringing civil action in the French investigation on the attack which killed her husband, whose plane had been gunned down in Kigali. This investigation, closed last November, led to the issuing of 9 international arrest warrants against persons close to the sitting President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. The French judge Jean Louis Bruguière has asked that his conclusions be communicated to the United Nations in preparation for the indictment of Kagame by the ICTR. The International Tribunal declared it has not received his request yet. In reaction to this legal action, Rwanda broke off all diplomatic relations with France. Mr. Kagame always denied having played a role in the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana. PB © Hirondelle News Agency