French Judges to Issue arrest warrants against Kagame’s closest Aides for Assassination of President Habyarimana
Sources close to the French anti-terrorism prosecution in Paris have informed AfroAmerica Network that the French anti-terrorist Judges Marc Trevin and Nathalie Poux will soon issue arrest warrants for six close aides to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The six are accused of shooting down a plane carrying the late Rwandan and Burundian Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira.
The assassination of the two presidents and their staff, along with the french crew triggered the Rwandan massacres of 1994. Those targeted by the arrest warrants are:
– General James Kabarebe, the current Minister of Defense,
– General Jack Nziza, aka Jackson Nkurunziza, the director of the notorious Rwanda’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI),
– Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Kayonga,
– Jacob Tumwine,
– Franck Nziza,
– Eric Hakizimana,
– Samuel Kanyemera,
– and General Kayumba Nyamwasa.
The two French judges have been working on the case for some time, after taking over from the retired Judge Bruguiere. In September 2010 they made a trip to Rwanda and brought in experts to reconstruct the attack. The results, with ballistic reconstructions, are expected in early March 2011 as the arrest warrants are issued. The area from where the missiles were fired was a critical component that helped determine whether the assassins were in government held areas or on a farm suspected to have been used by a rebel commando, led by Frank Nziza and Eric Hakizimana.
According to the same sources, the investigations and ballistic reconstructions have ruled out other areas as potential shooting sites.
On December 16, 2010 the judges travelled to Bujumbura, Burundi to indict six of the accused. They also travelled to South Africa to indict General Kayumba Nyamwasa, now in exile in South Africa. His lawyer Gerald Gahima travelled to Spain to respond to a related indictment (see our articles of September 28, 2010: Former Rwandan Prosecutor General Gahima testifies agains Kagame in Spain). Jacob Tumwine has since the assassination retired from the army. Frank Nziza and Eric Hakizimana are the suspected shooters. However, Eric Hakizimana is allegedly dead.
The former Chief of Protocol Mr. Kagame, Rose Kabuye, also named in the warrants was the person indicted in late 2008, and used to restore the diplomatic relations. According to the same sources in Paris, she has since testified against the others in exchange for dropping charges against her. This collaboration led to her firing from her position as Rwandan Chief of Presidential Protocol (see our September 3, 2010 article: Rwandan Protocol Chief Rose Kabuye Fired).
The case has been a contentious issue between the Rwandan Government of Paul Kagame and the French Government and has led to severed diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France. The relations were eventually restored when France agreed to revisit the case and Rwanda to have one of the accused appear before the French courts.
The impact of the arrest warrants on the relations remains to be seen. Recently pressure from a powerful Rwandan lobby in France has been mounting to force the hand of the judiciary system and dropping the warrants.