The Rwandan diplomat accused of being complicit in the death of
assassinated President Juvenal Habyarimana is expected to arrive France
today (Friday) to appear in court. Rose Kabuye, a close ally of
President Paul Kagame, was arrested in November in Germany after a
French judge issued an international arrest warrant for her alleged role
in the death of Rwanda's former president. Kabuye was later freed on
bail by a French judge and allowed to return to Rwanda for Christmas.
She is charged with invovement in the shooting down of the plane
carrying Mr. Habyarimana's plane in April 1994. The death of the former
president is widely believed to have triggered Rwanda's genocide, which
led to the killing of 800-thousand people in 100 days. Rwanda's justice
minister Tharcisse Karugarama tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kigali
is confident of Kabuye's innocence.
"Indeed, Rose Kabuye is returning to France today. But that is not in
accordance with the agreement that we had with France. Rather, it is in
accordance with the terms of the bail that was granted to her. It is the
terms of the court decision that was made authorizing her to make a trip
to Kigali and be back to France on the 10^th . And secondly, I wanted to
say that those terms that were set are exactly in line with due process,
and so far, her rights have been respected," Karugarama pointed out.
He said there was no need for the French judge to have issued an
international arrest warrant against Rose Kabuye and some of her
colleagues who are also being accused of complicity in the former
"We have always argued and still argue that there was no reason in the
first place at all to issue any indictment because she would have
voluntarily and freely moved to France if anybody has questions for her.
In the first place, there was no need at all for a warrant or arrest or
an indictment and for this so-called international arrest warrant. They
should not have issued it in the first place because you can only issue
a warrant of arrest for somebody who has refused to cooperate with the
judicial authority," he said.
Karugarama said he is hopeful the Rwandan diplomat would get a fair trial.
"Honestly, I would wish to believe that the judiciary would do its job.
I also wish to believe that she would definitely win the case because
there is no case against her. I want to believe that those political
manipulations would be shown with what they were worth. And that the
judges would see through it and that they will call a bluff a bluff, and
that she would come home clean, innocent as she has always been. And
that is the case of all the other people that have been indicted,"
He said there seems to be no empirical proof of Kabuye's alleged guilt
in the assassination of the former president.
"There is nothing and no shred of evidence whatsoever. So we believe she
would be clean, home and dry," he said.
Karugarama described the charges leveled against Rose Kabuye as a
classic case of political manipulation.
"I read the report of judge (Jean-Louis) Bruguiere. When you read it, it
is empty of substance. As a trained lawyer, if I read something that is
having no substance, if I read gossip, if I read the spirit of judge
Bruguiere, I call it for what it is worth, an empty accusation. So it
can only political manipulation on the part of the judge and those who
were behind his decision," Karugarama pointed out.
He said the diplomatic relationship between Kigali and Paris is improving.
"I would say that today the relationship is better than yesterday, and
that it would be good for international diplomacy and politics to foster
such relations. I think that there is nobody that benefits from
conflicts, except bad guys. We would wish to believe that we are the
good guys and that there are good guys in France, and that the good guys
in the two countries would work hard for the harmonization of relations.
There is nobody that really benefits from strained relations, and so we
would hope that time and history would put things straight," he said.
Meanwhile, French Judge Bruguiere, who issued Rose Kabuye's arrest
warrant, was probing the April 6, 1994, shoot-down over Kigali of a
plane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana, along with Burundi's
former leader Cyprien Ntaryamira, both ethnic Hutus, and a French crew.
The judge also said President Paula Kagame, a Tutsi and then a rebel
leader, should be tried for possibly ordering the downing of the plane.
Kagame has always denied any involvement in the attack on the plane.
As a head of state, Kagame enjoys immunity. But on Wednesday, the judge
signed international arrest warrants for nine of the president's close
associates, accusing them of murder and conspiracy in the incident.
Kagame reacted furiously, calling the claims "rubbish," accusing France
of "bullyish" behavior, and repeating allegations that France was
complicit in the genocide by backing the radical Hutus blamed for most
of the killings.
Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with Paris in 2006 after a French
anti-terrorism judge issued arrest warrants for Kabuye and other Rwandan
government officials alleged to have been complicit in the shooting down
of the plane and its prelude to the one-hundred-day massacre. Kigali
also accused France of showing gross disrespect and disdain to African
countries over the international arrest warrants.
Following the arrest of Kabuye, Kigali sharply condemned both Germany
and France, saying she was on official government business when detained
and therefore should have enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Rwanda in
retaliation expelled Germany's ambassador and recalled its envoy from