Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 17:06 UK

France denounces genocide claims

Rwanda genocide survivor praying next to skulls (file picture)

France has rejected Rwandan claims accusing French officials of playing an active role in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as "unacceptable".

On Tuesday, an independent Rwandan commission said France had been aware of preparations for the genocide and helped train the ethnic Hutu militia.

The report also accused French troops of direct involvement in the killings.

Paris has consistently denied any responsibility for the genocide, in which about 800,000 people were killed.

Among those named in the report were the late president Francois Mitterrand and the then prime minister Edouard Balladur.

Two men who went on to become prime minister were also named - Alain Juppe, the foreign minister at the time, and his then chief aide, Dominique de Villepin.

"This report contains unacceptable accusations made against French political and military officials," a French foreign ministry spokesman said.

But Rwandan Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said she hoped the French officials named would be indicted for war crimes.

"The government has asked the courts to use this report. We hope that legal proceedings will follow," she is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias in just 100 days in 1994.

Earlier this year, France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denied French responsibility in connection with the genocide, but said political errors had been made.


The Rwandan government has urged the relevant authorities to bring the accused French politicians and military officials to justice
Rwandan justice ministry

The Rwandan report says France backed Rwanda's Hutu government with political, military, diplomatic and logistical support.

"French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis... French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors," said a statement from the justice ministry quoted by AFP.

"Considering the seriousness of the alleged crimes, the Rwandan government has urged the relevant authorities to bring the accused French politicians and military officials to justice," the statement said.

It further alleged that French forces did nothing to challenge checkpoints used by Hutu forces in the genocide.

The two countries have had a frosty relationship since 2006 when a French judge implicated Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the downing in 1994 of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane - an event widely seen as triggering the killings.

President Kagame has always denied the charge.

He says Mr Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed by Hutu extremists who then blamed the incident on Tutsi rebels to provide the pretext for the genocide.

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