14.04.11 – FRANCE/JUSTICE – FRENCH RESEARCH SECTION WORKS ON GENOCIDE

Paris, April 14, 2011 (FH) - As the French Senate is currently discussing the creation of "Special investigative unit" within the judiciary to work on crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, four military investigators belonging to Paris gendarmerie are already working on 15 out of 18 cases opened before Paris lower court.

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On April 11, 2011, the Hirondelle News Agency met with some members of this "group for crimes against humanity and crimes of war", which is part of the Paris gendarmerie Research section, in their headquarters next to Porte de Bagnolet (East of Paris).

According to Colonel Gosset, who heads the Research section, "The deadlock was broken after Secretary General of the French presidency, Claude Gueant, visited Kigali in November 2009. Then, everything went really fast. The decision of creating a special research section was taken in December 2009, and in January 2010, two investigators traveled to Rwanda with French examining magistrates".

The group now counts four investigators, but Colonel Gosset says that he has requested "four more investigators and one analyst who could give some chronological background, and establish links between the different cases".

Paris gendarmerie research section has been working in the past on Paul Touvier’s case. Touvier was in 1994 the first French citizen ever convicted for crimes against humanity for his role as Head of the Militia in Lyon during World War II.

The section has also worked on two Nazi fugitives’ cases, and on the Congolese case known as "Brazzaville Beach missing people", currently under examination by a lower court in Meaux (North of Paris).

According to one of the investigators, the Research section sent a team to Rwanda every other month in 2010, and nearly every month in 2011.

"Our goal is to arrive in Rwanda four to five days before the French magistrates to do some groundwork. Otherwise no preliminary work would have been done when they get there. Rwanda’s investigative unit is not showing ill-will but they don’t have enough people, and they also have to answer requests from Belgium, Canada, Norway…", he explains.

The investigator adds that Rwandan witnesses are now used to get money or per diem when they testify before the ICTR or for other countries’ tribunals, making the Research section work more complicated.

"There are professional witnesses who have their own self-made story which is going to be heard again and again by all the investigative units. Their standard of living is higher than their neighbors’".

FP/GF/FK

© Hirondelle News Agency