Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Belgian court to rule on Rwandans

Paul Kagame
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame brought the genocide to an end

A court in Belgium is to decide whether to proceed with the prosecution of two Rwandan generals in a case which has sparked a diplomatic row.

The two are accused of involvement in shooting down the plane carrying the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, which triggered the 1994 genocide.

French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has issued an arrest warrant for the pair, to the fury of the Rwandan government.

It cut off diplomatic ties and said France was involved in the genocide.

Rwanda has set up its own commission of inquiry into its charges that France backed the militias who slaughtered some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Belgium is dealing with the case under its law of universal jurisdiction.

But Lieutenant General Charles Kayonga and Brigadier General Jack Nziza say the indictment issued by Mr Bruguiere in 2006 violated that principle.

Rwanda has convinced other African countries not to implement the indictment and the African Union has asked for the charges to be dropped.

It is the same indictment that led to the arrest of Rwanda's Chief of State Protocol Rose Kabuye, who is now awaiting trial in Paris.

Her arrest sparked anger in Rwanda, with large protests by people asking for her immediate release.

Challenging the legal grounds of Judge Bruguiere's indictment in the Belgian court is yet another show of Rwanda's relentless efforts to nullify the arrest warrants, says the BBC's Geoffrey Mutagoma in Kigali.

The Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front of President Paul Kagame ended the genocide when it seized power from the Hutu government in 1994.

It has always said the shooting down of the plane carrying Mr Habyarimana, a Hutu, was carried out by Hutu extremists to justify putting their genocidal plans into action.

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