Paris, September 12, 2011 (FH) - France needs to show that justice is being done in Rwandan genocide related cases, whatever their outcome, Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told Hirondelle News Agency on Monday in Paris.  Karugarama is part of a delegation accompanying Rwandan President Paul Kagame on his first official visit to France since 1994.

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Speaking to AFP before lunch with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kagame said Monday he wanted to "move forward" without expecting or seeking apologies from the French government.

Rwandan allegations of French involvement in the genocide, and a French judicial inquiry that fingered the Rwandan President have led to strained relations since 1994, including a break in diplomatic ties between 2006 and 2009.

This visit is billed as part of a process to normalize relations, following Sarkozy's visit to Rwanda on February 25, 2010. During that visit Sarkozy acknowledged that France and the international community had made ‘'mistakes'' in 1994 and said they had suffered from "a form of blindness in not seeing the genocidal dimension" of what was unfolding. However, he stopped short of apologizing.

Sarkozy also promised during that visit to make sure that suspected Rwandan genocide leaders living on French soil be "found and punished". None of the 20 cases currently under investigation in France has so far come to trial.

"What we ask, what we hope is that things move forward," Justice Minister Karugarama told Hirondelle. "Rwanda is not seeking for everyone to be found guilty but that justice be rendered, whether it be in France or in Rwanda."

"Now there are judicial specialists (in France), whereas before there were not," he added. "There are French investigators who come to Rwanda frequently. So long as things move forward, even if the accused are found not guilty, there is no problem. But justice must be seen to be done."

The theme of the visit so far appears to be reconciliation, despite the anger of former political and military officials of Opération Turquoise (French operation in Rwanda in 1994) whom Kigali accuses of complicity with genocide leaders.  French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who has been accused in person by Rwandan authorities, is away on a visit to the Pacific.   

Amid a strong police presence, the official visit has also sparked protests by opponents of the Kagame regime, notably of Rwandese and Congolese origin. Former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu was among demonstrators in central Paris Monday calling for more freedom of expression in Rwanda and the liberation of prisoners such as jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire.


© Hirondelle News Agency