By: Rodrigue Rwirahira
President Paul Kagame has spoken out against the potential re-opening of an investigation into the downing of the plane that killed former President Juvénal Habyarimana.
Separate in-depth investigations by independent Rwandan and French judges have both previously concluded that the plane was shot down by Habyarimana’s elite brigade that was located within Kanombe Military Barracks.
According to media reports, the move to re-open the case is based on testimony provided by Kayumba Nyamwasa after the deadline established by the court to conclude the case. He had failed to appear before the court on two previous occasions.
“There are so many judgments out there whose basis is dishonesty and deliberate distortion,” President Kagame said.
“After investigating the case for two years and not finding anything, they want to start all over again,” he added.
The President was speaking earlier today at the opening of the 2016-2017 Judicial Year.
The President reminded members of the judiciary of the double standards faced by Rwanda on the international scene, and warned that such cases are not likely to end soon.
“You are dealing with people who think they own you, can exploit you, or treat you in a manner that doesn’t meet standards used for their own people,” Kagame said.
“We have to remind some people that the judicial system of Rwanda is not subordinate to France or French interests,” he added.
In November 2006, Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties with France after the controversial former French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière claimed that top Rwandan officials were involved in the downing of the Habyarimana’s plane.
At the time, other foreign missions stepped in to represent France in Rwanda. President Kagame called on these diplomatic missions to be prepared to fulfil this role once again:
“We are calibrating it properly and we are leading to that kind of situation. If starting all over again is a showdown, we will have a showdown,” Kagame said.
Reminding all present of the role of France in supporting and carrying out the Genocide against the Tutsi, President Kagame added:
“France should be the one tried for genocide, not Rwanda.”
Speaking to The New Times, Ms. Oria Vande Weghe, Communications Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, confirmed that almost a year ago Minister Mushikiwabo summoned the French Chargé d’Affaires to issue a warning that the decades-long politicisation of the French justice system against Rwanda must end, and that the acceptance by Rwanda of any future French ambassador would be conditioned on definitively ending that biased case.
“Where relations between France and Rwanda go from here, is a ball in France’s court,” she said.
“A few weeks ago, Rwanda made it clear that it no longer considers this case part of a legitimate pursuit of justice, but purely judicial bullying, and that if the case is started all over again, there will be no cooperation from Rwanda,” Ms. Vande Weghe added.
President Kagame concluded his remarks marking the start of the new Judicial Year by urging Rwandans to remain focused on their vision of transforming Rwanda:
“We have decided we are not going to be deterred from our responsibility to deliver to Rwandans the justice and dignity Rwandans want and deserve. When it is your right, it is never going to cost too much to do the right thing.”