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France Refuses Extradition for Rwandan Genocide Suspect

Eugene Rwamucyo (file photo)

Eugene Rwamucyo (file photo)

A French court has rejected a Rwandan government request to extradite a doctor accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

A judge in Versailles ruled Wednesday Eugene Rwamucyo could not receive a fair trial in Rwanda. The judge decided to release him in France.

Rwamucyo's lawyer, Philippe Meilhac, told reporters the court decision was a "relief" and called it a victory of law over politics.

Rwamucyo still faces a criminal investigation in Paris for genocide and crimes against humanity. The case against him was brought by a Rwandan victims group.

Wednesday's ruling comes as France and Rwanda are working to repair fragile relations. In March, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a visit to Rwanda after a three-year break in diplomatic ties.

A team of French investigators is currently in Kigali looking into the assassination of Rwanda's and Burundi's presidents in a 1994 plane crash. The incident is widely considered the trigger for the genocide.

A French finding in 2006 accusing President Paul Kagame, a former Tutsi rebel leader, of ordering the assassination led Rwanda to break ties with France. Mr. Kagame strongly denied the charge.

Rwanda's own investigation blamed Hutu extremists for the assassinations saying they were trying to create an excuse for the genocide.

Another Rwandan doctor faces an extradition hearing in Bordeaux in October.

During the genocide, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates in the span of 100 days.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.