Paris, January 11, 2010 (FH) - France intends to create a special investigative unit as part of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) in Paris to speed up the prosecution of genocide crimes and of crimes against humanity, according to an op-Ed published January 7 by the French Foreign Affairs and Justice ministers in Le Monde.

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They are planning to establish the service as part of a legal reform bill to be presented in Parliament in the first semester of 2010.

The publication of the op-Ed coincided with the visit to Kigali of the French minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner.

France and Rwanda restored diplomatic ties on November 29, three years after relations were severed by Kigali in protest against the indictment by a Paris judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, accused of ordering his predecessor's assassination.

According to the state-run Radio France International, Rwanda requested Bernard Kouchner to create a joint commission to look into France's role during the 1994 genocide, and to speed up investigations against genocide suspects living on French soil.

The creation of a special genocide unit would be an answer to the second request, as the number of alleged participants in Rwanda's genocide, who have sought refuge in France, has steadily increased. Fifteen Rwandans are currently awaiting trial in France.

Most of the cases have been transferred to the TGI in Paris, where they are being investigated by four magistrates. The creation of a special unit is meant to reinforce this team. "It will favour the pooling of resources, of specialized magistrates, translators, interpreters, experts and researchers who are essential for handling such complex and sensitive cases", Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Bernard Kouchner explain in their article.

In November 2009, two French magistrates form the TGI,  Fabienne Pous et Michelle Ganascia, travelled to Rwanda to complete their investigations on two pending cases, those of Wenceslas Munyeshaka and Laurent Bucybaruta.

Two other magistrates from the same court, Nicolas Aubertin and Brigitte Jolivet are expected in Rwanda soon. They are investigating the case of Pascal Simbikangwa, who was arrested in the French overseas department La Réunion for trafficking forged papers. Simbikangwa was transferred to a prison in metropolitan France in November 2009.

Simbikangwa is a relative of Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of former President Juvénal Habyarimana. He was allegedly a member of the inner circle of the "Hutu Power" structure, known as the Akazu. At the time of the genocide, Simbikangwa was working for the presidential intelligence service.


© Hirondelle News Agency