Paris, September 28, 2011 (FH) - The presiding judge of a Parisian appeals court decided on Wednesday that there was "no ground to extradite Mrs. Habyarimana to Rwanda". The dismissal of the Rwandan extradition request also means that the widow of the slain President is no longer under "legal restrictions", Judge Edith Boizette added. 

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Agathe Habyarimana, who attended the hearing with members of her family, said she felt "relieved". She added: "I've always had faith in the French Justice".

In December 2009, fifteen years after the Rwandan genocide, Kigali had requested France to extradite the former First Lady on grounds of seven counts of genocide

In a written statement, the appeals court explained that the request was rejected given that the alleged crimes were committed before specific genocide laws were adopted. Moreover, "the judges underscored that the alleged facts were described without any precise [incriminatory] detail", Defence lawyer Philippe Meilhac told the press after the hearing.

On June 29, French Prosecutor had already stated that the extradition request was "approximative" and lacking "precise facts" to sustain the charges. He added that he could not find any "legal ground to justify such charges in Rwanda" and, in conclusion, gave an "unfavorable recommendation" to the extradition request.

« We are satisfied with the outcome. This decision brings back the issue of the pending criminal proceeding against Mrs. Habyarimana in France. Examining magistrates are unlikely to have much more evidence against her. It's high time for them to summon Mrs. Habyarimana so she can lay out the truth before the justice", Philippe Meilhac added.

He referred to another proceeding against Agathe Habyarimana, which was initiated by a France-based victims' organization - Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) - in 2007 for "complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity". On March 10, 2010, Mrs. Habyarimana was questioned as a witness in relation to this case. So far, no charges have been retained against her.

« My client is 70. All she wants is to live in peace with her children. This campaign to demonize her has to stop!", Philippe Meilhac affirmed.

Agathe Habyarimana is now waiting for the final decision of an administrative in Versailles, near Paris, concerning her request for a residence permit, which has already been rejected twice. The decision is to be rendered any time after September 21.


© Hirondelle News Agency