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Rwandan returns for French trial

Rose Kabuye at a press conference in Paris (21 November 2008)
Rose Kabuye's arrest sparked anger among Rwandans

Rwandan official Rose Kabuye has told the BBC she must return to France for her trial and prove her innocence.

She was arrested in Germany at France's request under an international warrant, but was allowed home for Christmas.

The charges are in connection with the killing of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana that triggered the 1994 genocide.

"Either I had to die with this charge on my head or face justice and prove myself innocent," she said.

'Surprise'

Ms Kabuye, an aide to Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, was detained on arrival at Frankfurt airport in Germany in November following an arrest warrant issued by a French judge.

She is one of nine senior Rwandan officials wanted over the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane.

The French are trying to cover up what they did in the 1994 genocide and so they're trying to see what they can pin on Rwanda
Rose Kabuye

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

Ms Kabuye, who is travelling back to France on Friday to face trial after the Christmas holiday season, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that she was sad to say goodbye to her family.

"I feel bad that I have to go back to France... I'm leaving my children, my husband, my family, country," she said.

It was a surprise to have been allowed home for Christmas, she said.

"It's not normal, but, it's also not normal that an innocent person, a mother like me can be arrested when I am innocent - everything has been a surprise to me," she said.

She said she believes her case to be politically motivated.

"This should be a political problem between my country and France and of course I think the French are trying to cover up what they did in the 1994 genocide and so they're trying to see what they can pin on Rwanda," she said.

France has denied Rwandan accusations that it supported the Hutu militias who massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Ms Kabyue said no date as yet had been set for the trial.

President Kagame's Tutsi-led Rwanda Patriotic Front - a rebel group at the time, now the ruling party - has always strongly denied responsibility for shooting down Habyarimana's plane.

The RPF insists that the attack was carried out by Hutu extremists to give them a pretext to carry out their genocidal plans.

Correspondents say Ms Kabuye, a former RPF guerrilla has heroic status in Rwanda.

She has served as an MP and mayor of the capital Kigali, and is one of President Kagame's closest aides.

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