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

Somalia: No Popular Elections in 2016

In interview Wednesday with VOA, President Mohamud says 'one person, one vote' elections will not be possible due to continuing insecurity More

Scientists Predict Climate Change Will Increase Child Malnutrition

Public health expert in Germany says that by 2050, 25 million more children's lives will be put at risk because of lack of nutrients tied to climate change More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs