27.05.11 - FRANCE/RWANDA - AGATHE HABYARIMANA APPEALS NEW REFUSAL OF RESIDENCE PERMIT

Paris, 27 mai 2011 (FH) -  Agathe Habyarimana, widow of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, lodged on Friday a new appeal before the Administrative Tribunal of Versailles after her second request for asylum was rejected on May 4 by the prefecture of Essonne (France).
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According to her lawyer Philippe Meilhac, she had requested to be granted a residence permit for " private family reasons", since three of her five children have French nationality.

The appeal suspends Agathe Habyarimana's obligation to leave the French territory. The administrative court is expected to render a decision within three months.

Rwanda former First Lady has been mainly living in France since she was evacuated on a French plane from Kigali on April 9, 1994, at the start of the Rwandan genocide.

Her first request for asylum as a political refugee was turned down in January 2007 and then went on appeal.

In a decision of October 16, 2009, France's Conseil d'Etat (State Council) said that the Refugee Appeals Court had been right to confirm refusal of Ms Habyarimana's asylum request on  grounds that there exist "serious reasons to believe that the Appellant may have committed a crime in violation of the Geneva Conventions owing to her central role in the regime in power on April 6, 1994, which had prepared and planned the genocide, as well as her personal actions in the crucial period from April 6 to 9, 1994, and the relations that she subsequently continued to maintain with the authors of the genocide".

However, Philippe Meilhac, said at the time that the court drew its arguments largely from an indictment against her brother Protais Zigiranyirazo by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and that this was unjust especially given that the ICTR acquitted Zigiranyirazo in 2009.

The ICTR's prosecution office has conducted some investigations with regard to Ms Habyarimana's alleged role in the genocide, but has never indicted her.

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