France: Rwanda ex-first lady to stay

2011-09-28 19:27

Paris - A French appeals court on Wednesday rejected a Rwandan request to extradite alleged mass-killing mastermind Agathe Habyarimana, widow of the Rwandan president whose killing sparked the 1994 genocide.

Juvenal Habyarimana's widow, who has lived in France for over 15 years, was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for her alleged role in the massacre of 800 000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, in just 100 days.

"I'm relieved, I've always had faith in the French justice system," Habyarimana said after the judge's decision.

She was briefly arrested under a Rwandan-requested international arrest warrant in France in March 2010, a few days after a visit by Nicolas Sarkozy to Kigali, the first by a French president since the genocide.

Habyarimana, 69, is accused of being a key member of the "akazu" inner circle that planned and implemented the killings which began after her husband's plane was shot down on April 6 1994.

The former first lady, accused of being one of the brains behind the genocide and of being more hard line than her husband, still faces a 2008 civil suit for alleged involvement in the genocide brought by a French Rwandan rights collective.

"The appeal court's decision will be a problem for the outcome of that procedure," said Habyarimana's lawyer, Philippe Meilhac.

"We can't stay like this forever. The very serious accusations against Mrs Habyarimana are old and completely denied by Mrs Habyarimana," he said.

Habyarimana has lived in France since she escaped Rwanda in 1994. She is awaiting a court ruling on her appeal against a decision to refuse her a French residency permit, meaning she is currently in France without any legal status.

Kigali authorities have accused Paris of not doing enough to arrest, detain and extradite genocide suspects. The two countries do not have an extradition treaty and so requests are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

  • Bill - 2011-09-28 19:58

    She is just as guilty as her husband by at least reason of association.....! Don't tell me she was not aware of what was going to happen and what did happen..! French are spineless…!

      Lizzee - 2011-09-28 20:29

      Bill, how is her husband guilty? He was killed first. Why would he die willingly to get this done? If he was the mastermind (as you seem to think - "She is just as guilty as her husband") behind the genocide, don't you think he'd have gone about it another way where he did not lose his life?

      Bill - 2011-09-28 21:05

      Lizzee.. Juvénal Habyarimana favored his own ethnic group being the Hutus and purposely suppressed and disadvantaged the Tutsis and made no effort to suppress those that created and empowered the polarisation against the Tutsis..! It is also well documented that Habyarimana's closest advisers was his wife Agathe…! Juvénal Habyarimana had instilled the polarization that took place during his presidency between the Hutus and the Tutsis…! The civil war that followed his death, was purportedly because of the blame regarding the plane crash being blamed on the Tutsis by Hutus extremists, which resulted in the genocide of the Tutsis, which was as an indirect/direct result of his past influence on the Hutus to despise the Tutsis…! He therefore has guilt in this matter and so does his wife. You don’t have to be alive to have been responsible indirectly…!

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-09-28 21:01

    If she is innocent, what is she afraid of?

      slg - 2011-09-28 21:32

      Unfortunately the criminal justice system is based in a system of punishment and guilt, not remorse, requital and forgiveness.

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