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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK

World: Africa

Kabila denies massacres

President Kabila's forces swept to power in May 1997

The United Nations has accused forces loyal to the Democratic Republic of Congo President, Laurent Kabila, of systematically killing thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees.

Report co-author, Daniel O'Donnell: no room for doubt
A report presented to the UN Security Council calls for an international tribunal to pinpoint individuals responsibility for the killings that it says may constitute genocide if intention can be proved.

But Mr Kabila has rejected any involvement of forces loyal to him in the deaths as "pure fabrications and lies".

"My public salvation government is urging Africans to reject with the strongest indignation the so-called inquiry report, which is full of the pure fabrications and lies ..." he said in remarks broadcast by Radio France Internationale on Tuesday.

The radio said Kabila made the comments on DR Congo state radio on Monday.

"The Democratic Republic of Congo is calling on Africans to reject with indignation and disdain this pseudo-report of nostalgic night owls, who are champions of scheming and misinformation," Mr Kabila said.

Report allegations

The report alleges that some of the massacres were carried out with the support of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army.

It was the first from a UN team sent to investigate massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees allegedly carried out by Mr Kabila's forces during their victorious sweep to power.

The team was withdrawn from the former Zaire in April because of what the UN said was a "total absence of cooperation" from President Kabila's government.

[ image: President Kabila: dismisses UN claims]
President Kabila: dismisses UN claims
Mr Kabila came to office in May 1997 when he overthrew the dictatorial regime of President Mobutu Sese Seko and renamed the country.

In its report, the UN team said obstacles raised by the Kabila administration made it impossible to confirm or disprove most of the allegations.

But the team said it could confirm certain types of human rights violations occurred.

In particular, the team said it was able to confirm that current and former Rwandan army soldiers took part in some killings.

Specialist in former Zaire, Pierre Engelbert: 200,000 refugees missing
It also verified the capture and execution of hundreds of unarmed civilians after a November 1996 attack on Mugunga camp in the eastern part of the country.

Many others were later hunted down and executed, the report said.

Forensic evidence showed that bodies were removed from mass graves, corroborating testimony that an effort was made to hide evidence of the massacres from the UN, it added.

Governments reject report

Kabila's ambassador to the UN, Andre Mwanda Kupanda: no truth in allegations
Both the Congolese and Rwandan governments have categorically denied all the UN's allegations.

The Congolese Government said the report was a "dangerous document" that only "exacerbates the ethnic hatred between Hutu and Tutsi."

[ image: A massacre of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda in 1994]
A massacre of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda in 1994
But President Kabila has acknowledged in the past that some Rwandan Hutus, armed by President Mobutu to fight the rebels, may have been killed.

The Hutu refugees fled Rwanda to escape punishment for the 1994 massacre of an estimated 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

'Bring them to justice'

Reed Brody, a former member of the UN team and now advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said that the report was damning because it confirmed long-held suspicions about the extent of the massacres and the involvement of foreign troops.

"The question now is whether the international community has the political will to take the next step which is to identify the killers and bring them to justice," he said.

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