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Rwanda Names Commission to Investigate Former Leader’s Assassination


In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame’s cabinet has named constituted members to a commission that will look into circumstances that led to the plane crash that killed former President Juvenal Habyarimana and others. The government said the move will lay to rest speculation surrounding the death of the former leader and those accompanying him, and which many claim was a catalyst that fueled the country’s 1994 genocide. Scores of people lost their lives in the widespread violence that followed the crash. The government denies that creation of its commission was necessitated by international pressure.

From the capital, Kigali Rwanda’s Minister for Justice Tharcisse Karugarama tells reporter Peter Clottey that Rwandans want to know the truth about the plane crash.

“The decision to put in place the commission to investigate the falling down or the crash of the aircraft on April 6th 1994, this was a decision that was taken by the cabinet way back in March. And in April the legal instrument setting up the commission was put in place with a mission to investigate the circumstances of the crash and make a report about its findings. So what cabinet did was simply to name members of that commission,” Karugarama pointed out.

He said the commission would soon begin its mandate of investigating circumstances of the plane crash.

“In accordance with the law in place, it starts to work as soon as their names are published for the law naming them is published in the official gazette of the republic, which should be ready maybe by the end of this month,” he said.

Karugarama explains the criteria used in selecting members of the commission of inquiry.

“We looked at people that are known to have the right profile. The commission is being headed by a former chief justice of Rwanda, now a judge of the Supreme Court and a judge on the African Committee of Human Rights. And so an experienced judge with more than 30 years experience. We have given him professionals in different fields including; judges who have been drawn and known to be fair-minded people. And finally, there was the need to put a few people that have knowledge of how things work in the aviation industry,” Karugarama explained.

He said he has confidence in the ability of the commission to carry out the investigation thoroughly with sincerity.

“So, we put in place a team that we think would work independently. That was the first driving point: that the team should be competent and that the team should exercise maximum liberty to investigate and establish the truth. And so we hope by the close of the day, when the commission publishes its report, it should be able to satisfy Rwandans and our international development partners,” he noted.

Karugarama denied that the government is under pressure to investigate the circumstances, which led to the plane crash.

“There is no pressure whatsoever. There has just been a problem that for the last 13 years, people have been speculating, everybody giving their version of what could have happened on April 6th that led to the crash of the aircraft. Rwanda did request the international community to do some investigation. If you recall, the French parliamentary came to Rwanda to investigate, and their findings did not indicate or apportion responsibility. So this is something that has remained unanswered and everybody that wants to talks in a way speculative in nature. So government felt it was its responsibility to put in place a committee or a commission to investigate thoroughly, deeply, examine all circumstances and issue a report of its findings to be able to set the record straight,” Karugarama said.

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