Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government has reacted with shock and disappointment to France’s release of two suspects alleged to have played a significant role in the genocide of 1994. A French appeals court yesterday (Tuesday) ordered the release of a priest and a prefect after it rejected international arrest warrants and extradition of the suspects as well as the demand by Rwanda for the two to be held. During the genocide, scores of Tutsi’s and moderate Hutus were killed during a 100-day massacre led by radical Hutus.
Charles Murigande is Rwanda’s foreign minister. From the capital, Kigali he tells reporter Peter Clottey that by its action, France has undermined the integrity of the International Criminal Court to which it is a signatory.
“We are shocked and displeased, of course, by this decision, but it is not surprising that all these people have been living unhindered in France, benefiting from the protection of France for the last 12 years. Let me tell you that before International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) issued the international arrest warrants, we had done the same before. We had requested the extradition and all these efforts fell on deaf ears from France. So, it appears that it is the same old story of protecting people who are involved in genocide in Rwanda,” Murigande said.
He said France’s action smacks in the face of its espoused values.
“What may be shocking is to see France undermining an international tribunal that was put in place by the UN Security Council. And yet France is a permanent member of the Security Council,” he said.
Murigande said Rwanda would still pursue justice for the victims of the genocide.
“There is an option that is there. The ICTR requested to extradite these people to Arusha…and we are still having a pending request for extradition. Hopefully, a day will come when France will no longer be able to deny the values they purport to be founded on: values of democracy and of right to justice. And I hope that they would come sooner than later, and France would no longer be able to continue to be a haven for genocidal suspects,” Murigande said.
He reiterated Kigali’s determination to see genocide suspects brought to justice.
“We shall continue to press for these people to be brought to justice. We are not discouraged; we know that we have a just cause; we shall pursue it... until we get results,” he noted.