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Rwanda, France revive Habyarimana plane crash feud

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame has criticized French investigators who last week reopened an inquiry into a plane crash that sparked the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Rwandan presidency said that “France should be the one tried for genocide.”

“If starting all over again is a show down, then we will have a show down,” the presidency said on Twitter, adding that “the judicial system of Rwanda is not subordinate to France or (French) interests.”

BROUGHT DOWN: The remains of the presidential jet, a Falcon 50, that was brought down while carrying former Rwanda leader Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart Cyprein Ntaryamira.
BROUGHT DOWN: The remains of the presidential jet, a Falcon 50, that was brought down while carrying former Rwanda leader Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart Cyprein Ntaryamira.

The cause of the crash, in which the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed, has been a contentious issue in the years since the genocide. The plane had a French crew.

KILLED: Former Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana
KILLED: Former Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana

Militants from Rwanda’s Hutu majority blamed minority Tutsis for the death of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana, sparking the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Rwandan government insists the plane was shot down by extremists who opposed the government’s efforts to sign a peace deal with Tutsi-led rebels who had invaded Rwanda from Uganda, where they had lived as refugees.

A French investigation completed in 2012 found that the missile fire came from a military camp.

But Kagame, the leader of rebels who ended the genocide, has been accused by a prominent Rwandan exile of ordering that the plane be shot down.

French judges in charge of the investigation have filed an international request to hear the exile, former Rwandan military chief Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Nyamwasa said in 2012 that he has evidence Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane.

Nyamwasa, once a close ally of Kagame, now lives in South Africa and has survived multiple assassination attempts that he blames on the Rwandan government.

 

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