12.04.08 - RWANDA/FRANCE - WIDOW OF EX-RWANDAN PRESIDENT SEEKS END OF INVESTIGATIONS

Paris, 12 April 2008 (FH) - Agathe Kanziga, widow of ex-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, asked Thursday French judges to close their investigations into the attack against the presidential plane on 6 April 1994 near the capital Kigali, which killed her husband, and to transfer before the Assizes Court nine Rwandans, close to the current president Paul Kagame, subject of arrest warrants issued by French courts.
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"There is a certain number of elements that militate in favour of the indictment before a criminal court of the people that are the subjects of the arrest warrants", said her lawyer, Philippe Meilhac.

"This request answers a wish of our client to see that justice is rendered", he added.

The prosecution of Paris opened in March 1998 a legal investigation following a complaint filed by the families of the members of the French crew of the plane of President Habyarimana.

The attack, which cost Habyarimana's life and that of the Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, is regarded as the element that started the genocide in Rwanda.

It is only in 2005 that Mrs Habyarimana constituted herself a civil party in this case.

In November 2006, the investigating judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, issued nine international arrest warrants against close acquaintances of the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, suspected of having taken part in the attack. The initiative by the French magistrate, who has since left the bench, caused rupture of diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda.

According to various no-confirmed sources, the authorities will resume relations following the withdrawal of these warrants.

Some of the people targeted by the arrest warrants have let it be known to the investigating judges, who succeeded Mr. Bruguiere, Marc Trevidic and Philippe Coirre, that they wished to be heard either in Rwanda or in a neutral country. The absence of response from the judges is considered that they do not intend to take act on such a request.

Arrived in France after the genocide, Mrs. Habyarimana does not have any residence visa, confirmed her lawyer.

Her defence has filed an appeal before the Council of State against the decision of the Refugee Board not to grant her political asylum in France.

AP/PB/MM/SC

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