Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Habyarimana plane missiles fired from Kanombe – French court


Karugarama yesterday welcomed the French appeal court ruling.
The Paris Court of Appeal has dismissed attempts by the widow of Juvenal Habyarimana to disallow the results of a ballistics report that supported the finding that the missiles that brought down the former president’s plane was fired from Kanombe Military Barracks.

Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana and her family had challenged the experts’ report and wanted a second opinion, but their petition was thrown out in June 2012.

However, the court confirmed the ruling by a lower court, yesterday, on the that ballistics had been proven that the barracks was the launch site.

The ruling is a boost to French anti-terrorist judge Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, who identified Kanombe Barracks as the launch site of the missile that brought down the Head of State’s plane. The plane was shot down as it prepared to land at Kigali International Airport as Habyarimana returned from Tanzania.

The crash served as an excuse for key perpetrators to execute a meticulously planned Genocide against the Tutsi.

Trevidic, who investigated the cause of the April 6, 1994 crash for years, had based on ballistic experts’ findings to rule that Habyarimana was killed by his inner circle. However, following his decision, a group of people, including Habyarimana’s widow, filed an appeal challenging Trevidic’s conclusions.

Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, yesterday, told The New Times that Rwanda welcomes the judgement.

“We have learnt that the French Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal filed against Trevidic’s ruling on grounds that the ballistic experts conducted an authentic work,” said Karugarama.  “Rwanda highly welcomes the decision of the French Court of Appeal.”

The experts’ findings corroborated what the government had earlier confirmed which vindicated Rwanda’s long-held position on the circumstances surrounding events of April 1994.


In 2006, a French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, accused members of the current government of involvement in the assassination of Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira.

However, the two judges who replaced Bruguière after Rwanda and France restored diplomatic relations in 2009, agreed to carry out fresh investigations into the crash. Bruguière’s approach was criticised as being highly politicised and his methods neglected physical evidence as he favoured hearsay accounts.

The findings of the French report vindicated the 2009 findings of an independent Committee of Experts created in April 2007 to establish the truth regarding the circumstances of the crash of the Falcon-50 airplane.

The Mutsinzi Report, a product of a commission led by Justice Jean Mutsinzi ,also established that the missile that downed the plane was fired from Kanombe Barracks.

With help from ballistics experts and others from the UK’s National Defence Academy, who provided scientific advice and analysis, the team collected and analysed thousands of documents and interviewed nearly 600 witnesses, who either observed what happened or had information directly related to the attack.

French blamed

Meanwhile, other reports have instead implicated the French government in the death of the former president.

Early this year, a French newspaper, Libération, revived questions about the role of Paris in the plane crash.

The paper points to the mysterious death of three French citizens, including two policemen manning radio transmissions between the French embassy in Kigali and the Rwandan army at the time, and the wife of one of the officers.

Libération reported that circumstances surrounding the deaths have remained a top secret within the French system, adding that a death certificate issued by the French army for one of the officers was falsified.

There are suspicions that the two French gendarmes, Alain René Maier and Didot, intercepted confidential radio conversation just minutes before the shooting down of Falcon 50 jet.


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