News / Africa

Rwanda Seeks Extradition of Former First Lady

Agathe Kanzinga, widow of former Rwandan leader Juvenal Habyarimana (1977 photo)
Agathe Kanzinga, widow of former Rwandan leader Juvenal Habyarimana (1977 photo)
Alan Boswell

Rwanda is seeking the extradition of a former first lady who was arrested by French authorities Tuesday on genocide-related charges. France is reaching out to Rwanda after years of cold relations, which have stemmed from allegations that France was closely linked with the genocide perpetrators.

France has detained Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of the former Rwandan leader whose death in 1994 set off the ethnic slaughter which killed 800,000 in just 100 days.

Her accusers paint Habyarimana as a powerful behind-the-scenes figure and a central leader within the circle of Hutu radicals responsible for planning the massacre. A recent report commissioned by the current Rwandan government suggests that she may have been involved in the plot to kill her husband, who at the time of his death had just signed a controversial power-sharing deal with a Tutsi rebel force.

She and her family have always denied involvement in the mass killings.

Rwandan Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo praised the arrest by French authorities, who were acting on an international warrant issued by Rwanda.

"We welcome the move," said Louise Mushikiwabo. "We think that justice delayed is justice denied, and a number of people in Rwanda have been waiting to hear what happens with Habyarimana's widow. The people who know her in Rwanda from back then testify that she was quite involved in the preparation of the genocide."

The Rwandan official says that her country will push for the suspect to be sent back to Rwanda for trial, but also suggested that whether Habyarimana faces charges is more important than where the trial would take place.

"Ideally she should be extradited to Rwanda to face justice where the crime was committed, there is no question about it," said Mushikiwabo."That is what we are demanding. But for her, as for many other people that are implicated in this genocide, we want first and foremost justice. The important thing is that there is justice somewhere, especially because this is a crime that is not just against Rwandans but against humanity."

The French, who were close allies with Juvenal Habyarimana's regime, reportedly flew the late leader's widow out of the country as events spiraled out of control following her husband's assassination.

She has sought political asylum in France, where she has resided for a number of years, but her request has never been granted.

The sudden move to act on the arrest warrant is seen as part of a broader diplomatic gesture from France that it is serious about improving its battered ties with the tiny central African nation. Rwandan President Paul Kagame once led the Tutsi rebel force that eventually ended the genocide, and his allies have accused France of arming the Hutu militias who carried out the Tutsi extermination campaign.

France has always rebuffed claims that it was directly linked to the mass killings. But in a short trip to Kigali last week, which included a visit to a genocide memorial, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the strongest statement of French regret yet, admitting "mistakes" were made, as well as "errors of judgment" and "errors of politics."

President Kagame cut off diplomatic relations with the European nation in 2006 after a French judge accused him and nine of his aides of shooting down President Habyarimana's plane. Official ties were restored in November.

The French in January also arrested a Hutu physician who is suspected to have led the murder of Tutsi in his village.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid