Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hutus 'killed Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana'

Rwandan Juvenal Habyarimana
The killing of Juvenal Habyarimana sparked Rwanda's genocide

Hutu extremists assassinated Rwanda's president in 1994 and used it as an excuse for the mass killing of Tutsi rivals, a government inquiry has found.

Previous reports have blamed the murder of President Juvenal Habyarimana - who was a Hutu - on Tutsi rebels.

But the same Tutsi rebels are now in government, and their leader Paul Kagame is president.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent Peter Greste says the report's conclusion is not surprising.

It is what Mr Kagame has always said.

But our correspondent says the report took two years to complete and included testimony from almost 600 witnesses, so it was also the most exhaustive inquiry into the assassination to date.

Mr Habyarimana's son rejected the findings of the report before it was published, describing the exercise as a game.

According to the inquiry, members of Mr Habyarimana's own inner circle plotted his death months in advance.

Mr Habyarimana was flying in to the capital Kigali with his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira when a missile brought the plane down, killing all on board.

The attack, the report said, was a deliberate attempt by Hutu extremists close to the president to scupper an imminent peace agreement with the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels.

It was also an excuse to begin the genocide to wipe out Rwanda's Tutsi population, the report said.

In the 100 days of violence that followed, more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

The report contradicts an earlier French government investigation which accused Mr Kagame's RPF of being behind the attack.

That sparked a diplomatic row between France and Rwanda which has only just been resolved.

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