Rwanda genocide: French court ruling could shed light on France's role

Rwanda genocide: French court ruling could shed light on France's role
Copyright Ben Curtis/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Mark Armstrong with AFP
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A court ruling in France could pave the way to opening up files that could shed light on what the French government knew and did about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.


A ruling from France's highest administrative court could shed light on how French government actions may have influenced events surrounding the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s.

The former dictator of the African nation, Juvenal Habyarimana, died when the plane carrying him was shot down in 1994, unleashing a wave of ethnic terror.

The public rapporteur of France's Council of State has now ruled in favour of researcher François Graner, from the NGO Survie (Survival), calling for the opening of the archives of former French President François Mitterand.

"What we want is to understand what the political decision-makers of the time knew, François Mitterand and his advisors, what information they had when they made the decisions that have since been criticized, and that involve France during, before and after the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994," explained Graner.

Up to a million dead in 100 days

Within hours of Rwanda's former dictator's death in 1994, the killing started.

Over the next hundred days or so between half a million and million Tutsis and politically moderate Hutu were killed in attacks ordered by the interim government.

Many were hacked to death, and the killers were often police, soldiers, and militia.

The scale and brutality of the massacre shocked the world.

"What we have been able to establish from the documents we have is the complicity of the French government," claimed Graner. "That is to say, knowledge of the cause, knowledge of what happened, active support, which had an effect on the crime. It doesn't mean genocidal intent. Simply, we saw an intention to keep Rwanda under French influence at all costs, and at all costs, that meant by supporting those carrying out the genocide"

Francois Graner has been calling for the Mitterrand archives to opened for the past five years. The opinions of the public rapporteur are generally followed by the administrative court.

A decision is expected in three weeks' time.

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