Brussels, 8 September 2008 (FH) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said that Kigali was considering the possibility of issuing arrest warrants against French officials implicated by the Rwandan Commission for their role in the 1994 genocide, according to Belgian Newspaper Le Soir (The Evening) Saturday's edition.

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 "It is a possibility that we are considering [...]. Moreover, on a legal level, the French established a precedent. If they did it -- issue arrest warrants against Rwandan leaders -- we can also do it against them", the Rwandan President told Le Soir in an interview, referring to the arrest warrants issued in 2006 by French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere against nine officials of the Kigali regime for their alleged role in the attack, on 6 April 1994, against the plane of President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Early August, the special Rwandan Commission made their findings public, which implicated the French military and civilian officials in the genocide. More than 800 000 people were killed, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, between April and July 1994, according to the UN.

Before resorting to legal recourse, Mr. Kagame stated that he was waiting for the French authorities. France as such, was examining, through its institutions its government, the findings of the Rwandan Commission, he said.

 "They cannot simply sweep aside this report, moreover that many points had already been raised by the parliamentary investigation mission that was organized in France ten years ago", he stressed, criticizing reactions [heard] on the radio, where the commentators swept the Rwandan report aside..."

The Rwandan president also brushed aside any possibility of a particular arrangement with the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner or President Nicolas Sarkozy. "In a situation like this one, it is very difficult; things have gone too far. It is the French themselves, by their attitude, which made all of this much more difficult" claimed President Kagame.

He added: "the question asked exceeds by far the relations between Rwanda and France; it is a question of international justice, to know how European judges, acting within an individual capacity, can thus misuse justice and attack other countries, whereas the opposite is not true. Until now, such steps have always been from North to South, and I do not see why it should continue in this way."

In the same edition of Le Soir, Rwandan Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Kavugarama, announced that Rwanda would call upon the legal cooperation between States to continue the investigations into French officials among them Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, respectively Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during the 1994 events, as well as other high ranking military officials.

In case this does not work, Mr. Kavugarama warns that "international arrest warrants [...] should be ready within a month or two [for French officials]".


© Hirondelle News Agency