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France drops criminal investigation of Rwandan officials over 1994 plane crash

French investigators have dropped charges against nine Rwandan officials, including former defense minister James Kabarebe, who were suspected of playing a role in the 1994 plane crash which killed President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane alongside the French crew. 

The crash preceded the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi minority which saw an estimated 800,000 people killed. 

The investigation was dropped citing a lack of sufficient evidence. 
Rwandan government officials have welcomed the closing of this investigation, which they assert was politically motivated.

The investigation was originally opened in 2012, where it concluded that a missile was launched from a Rwandan military camp. This implicated the Rwandan regime in power at the time as opposed to the Rwandan Patriotic Front, who was able to end the genocide and take power. 

France reopened the investigation however after a prominent Rwandan exile claimed that Paul Kagame, the current President, ordered the rockets be shot at the plane. Kagame denies these claims.

Speaking to journalists Foreign Minister Dr Richard Sezibera said, “we welcome this decision which brings to an end a brazen attempt over two decades to obstruct justice for the genocide against the Tutsi, and prevent accountability for both the perpetrators and their wilful accomplices.”

The Rwandan government are critical of France, accusing the state of being complicit with the genocidal regime and willing to turn a bling eye to the slaughter that was unfolding. 

They named 22 senior French military officers who they accuse of helping plan and carry out the genocide through their support for the Rwandan army. 

Whilst France has denied these allegations, it has launched a number of inquiries examining their own complicity with the attacks.

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