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Rwandan Official Accuses France of Role In Genocide

A former top Rwandan official has testified that France played a role in the country's 1994 genocide.

Speaking at an investigative panel hearing Tuesday, former Rwandan ambassador to France Jacques Bihozagara said French involvement was driven by concerns about losing influence in Africa.

France has denied accusations that its troops trained and armed militias responsible for the massacres, and then helped their leaders flee the country.

Rwanda's government opened the panel, led by former Justice Minister Jean de Deiu Mucyo, to hear claims that French soldiers allowed or even encouraged the massacres. Twenty five witnesses were expected to testify and the hearings were broadcast live on radio.

The Rwandan panel began its work in April, and is expected to release its findings within six months.

Separately, a French military tribunal is investigating charges that French troops allowed Hutu extremists to enter camps set up to protect Tutsis.

During the 1994 genocide, Hutu extremists massacred some 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.