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French Judge to Sign Arrest Warrants for Death of Former Rwandan President


France's top anti-terrorist judge has requested arrest warrants against nine senior Rwandan officials linked to a 1994 attack that killed former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. The warrants, which are expected to signed as early as Wednesday, also implicate Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Ordered by French antiterrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the nine warrants target highly placed officials in the Rwandan government.

News services who claim to have read a document by Bruguiere report the judge also argues Rwanda's President Paul Kagame had orchestrated the plane crash that killed former president Habyarima in an effort to seize power.

The president's death unleashed three months of ethnic violence that killed as many as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Bruguiere began investigating the crash in 1998, at the request of the family of the French pilot of the plane who died in the attack.

The arrest warrants come at a delicate period in French-Rwandan relations. Kigali is currently looking into France's alleged role in the 1994 genocide, which followed the death of the former president. Paris staunchly denies having anything to to with the massacres.

In an interview with Radio France International, Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Murigande accused Bruguiere of ordering the arrest warrants in a bid to cover up alleged French military involvement in Mr. Habyarimana's death.

Mr. Muringande said the warrants reflected the panic within parts of the French military about Rwanda's inquiry of the genocide.

He suggested judge Bruguiere was inspired and motivated by some French military, among others.

Mr. Kagame enjoys immunity from prosecution in France as Rwanda's president.

But the International Herald Tribune reported Wednesday that Mr. Bruguiere may write United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to request for the Rwandan president to be tried at the international Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Arusha, Tanzania.