Judges close investigation into downing of Habyarimana’s plane

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Habyarimana

The Government of Rwanda says it has learned, through the accused, of the decision by Judges Jean-Marc Herbaut and Nathalie Poux to definitively close their investigation into the downing of President Habyarimana’s plane in 1994 without charges, due to lack of evidence.

Nine Rwandan officials were indicted in 2006 in this politically-motivated investigation that lasted more than 20 years.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson, Dr Richard Sezibera, said:

“We welcome this decision which brings to an end a brazen attempt over two decades to obstruct justice for the Genocide against the Tutsi, and prevent accountability for both the perpetrators and their wilful accomplices.”

Juvénal Habyarimana was the 2nd President of the Republic of Rwanda, serving longer than any other president to date, from 1973 until 1994.

He was nicknamed “Kinani”, a Kinyarwanda word meaning “invincible”.

On April 6, 1994, Habyarimana’s private Falcon 50 jet was shot down near Kigali International Airport, killing Habyarimana.

Cyprien Ntaryamira, the President of Burundi, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan military, and numerous others also died in the attack.

The plane crashed on the grounds of the presidential residence. The circumstances of the crash are unclear.

At the time, the Hutu Power media claimed the plane had been shot down on orders from RPF leader Paul Kagame.

Others, including the RPF, accused militant Hutus from within Habyarimana’s party of orchestrating the crash in order to provoke anti-Tutsi outrage while simultaneously seizing power.

Since the aircraft had a French crew, a French investigation had been conducted; in 2006 it concluded that Kagame was responsible for the killing and demanded that he be prosecuted.

The response from Kagame, the de facto leader of Rwanda since the genocide, was that the French were only trying to cover up their own part in the genocide that followed.

A more recent French probe in a January 2012 report was falsely reported to exonerate the RPF.

Members of Kagame’s inner circle have come out publicly stating that the attack was ordered by Kagame himself.

These include his former chief of staff and ambassador to the United States Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, the former army chief and ambassador to India General Kayumba Nyamwasa, the former secretary in the ministry of defense Major Jean-Marie Micombero, and others.

The death of Habyarimana ignited a murderous spree by extremists from the majority Hutus against Tutsis and those Hutus who had opposed the government in the past or who had supported the peace accords.

Within 100 days, somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million Rwandans were massacred.

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