Paris, October 7, 2011 (FH) - A French administrative court in Versailles quashed on Thursday the Prefecture of Essonne's decision to refuse Agathe Habyarimana a residence permit for France. It requested the Prefet to give grounds for its refusal and take a new decision, stopping short of ordering the Prefecture to deliver legal status to the claimant.

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Juvénal Habyarimana's widow  had requested to be granted a permit for "private family reasons" on the grounds that three of her five children had French nationality and were living in France. Her demand was rejected twice, the Prefecture of Essonne arguing that her presence on French soil represented "a threat to public order". She appealed the decision on September 6.

Rwanda's former First Lady, 70, has been mainly living in Courcouronnes (Essonne, France) since she was evacuated on a French plane from Kigali on April 9, 1994, three days after the beginning of the Rwandan genocide.

In its judgment dated October 6, the Versailles court stressed that  the Prefet  "did not characterize the threat to public order", and summoned him to "take a new decision considering the situation, and formulate its grounds more precisely".

The same tribunal had already rendered a similar verdict on November 2, canceling the Prefecture's first rejection of a residence permit.

"The diplomatic stakes are high. One can feel the judges preoccupation to avoid new problems between France and Rwanda", Habyarimana's  Defence lawyer Philippe Meilhac told Hirondelle News Agency. "So the court is playing for time", he said.

"But we should not forget that behind this judicial battle there is a 70-year old woman who is an outcast in France", he added.


© Hirondelle News Agency