PARIS - A lawyer for an alleged Rwandan ex-spy chief living in France says his client denies allegations that he was involved in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Aloys Ntiwiragabo is now under investigation by French prosecutors.
In an interview with VOA, lawyer Benjamin Chouai said his client Aloys Ntiwiragabo has been living in France for years.
One of two lawyers defending Ntiwiragabo, Chouai said French authorities have been fully aware of his client’s whereabouts, since Ntiwiragabo applied for legal status here.
French judicial authorities said Saturday they had opened a crimes against humanity probe targeting Ntiwiragabo.
The move followed a report by investigative news site Mediapart, which tracked the former intelligence chief and his wife to a suburb of Orleans, about 110 kilometers south of Paris.
The former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, or ICTR, once identified Ntiwiragabo as one of the architects of the Rwandan genocide that killed about 800,000 people.
But, the AFP news agency reports the ICTR, now succeeded by another mechanism, had long ago dropped an arrest warrant against Ntiwiragabo, as did French and Rwandan authorities.
Reports suggest investigators seem to have lost track of him years ago.
Lawyer Chouai said his client was not in hiding.
He said Ntiwiragabo never hid his real identity in France, and is available now to answer investigators’ questions. His client strongly contests the Mediapart report, Chouai says, and insists he played no role in the genocide.
Radio France International reports Ntiwiragabo remained in Rwanda’s military during the genocide but at least initially sided against a key organizer of the killings.
Ntiwiragabo also authored a 2018 book offering his version of the broader 1990s Great Lakes conflict, through French publishing house Editions Scribe.
The French probe into his actions follows the May arrest in France of another major genocide suspect. Felicien Kabuga was accused of bankrolling the genocide. The 84-year-old had been hiding for years outside Paris and is now appealing his transfer to Arusha, Tanzania to face trial.
Alain Gauthier, who heads a French genocide survivors’ group, estimates several dozen other suspects remain at large in France. He denounces the slowness of France’s judicial system.
Other alleged suspects include Agathe Habyarimana, widow of the former Rwandan president, whose death helped trigger the genocide. She lives outside of Paris.