Arusha, 29 November 2007 (FH) - Juvénal Habyarimana, the former Rwandan president, was not a "commoner" compared to his wife Agathe Kansiga, explained to a chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Bernard Lugan a French historian called as an expert witness.

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The former Rwandan president, was like his wife, originally from Buciru, an area in northern Rwanda. He belonged to a historical line known as the "clearers" installed in the area in the 17th century as this area was covered with forests, explained Lugan. For this reason he had the right known as Ubukonde, explained the expert.

These aristocratic roots, explained the expert, are in contradiction with an explanation usually retained until now of a more common extraction compared with that of his wife Agathe Habyarimana, born Kansiga.

According to this explanation, the higher social origins in Rwandan society would have allowed Agathe Habyarimana to be higher placed than her husband by creating the famous "Akazu" family circle, accused of having had important powers under the Habyarimana regime and having a share of the responsibility in the organization of the genocide.

According to the French historian, Habyarimana descended, like his wife, from the last king of Buciru, even if the family of his wife was richer than his. Juvénal Habyarimana was assassinated in an attack against his plane which cost the lives of 11 other people. This attack sparked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide; which resulted in, according to the UN, in 800 000 victims. Agathe Habyarimana, since a refugee in France, was refused the status of political refugee and is targeted by a complaint from an association of Rwandan victims.

© Hirondelle News Agency