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Genocide in Rwanda: general dismissal in the investigation of the French army in Bisesero

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Seventeen years after the opening of this judicial investigation, and four years after its closure, two investigating judges of the Paris court signed a dismissal order on September 1, AFP learned on Wednesday from sources. close to the file.

In this case, the associations Survie, Ibuka, FIDH and six survivors of Bisesero, civil parties, accused the French military-humanitarian mission Turquoise and France of complicity in genocide for having, according to them, knowingly abandoned the Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge in the hills of Bisesero, in the west of the country, for three days, allowing the massacre of hundreds of them to be perpetrated by the genocidaires, from June 27 to 30, 1994.

A memorial was built in Bisesero, in tribute to the victims of the massacre which took place there at the end of June 1994, within the framework of the genocide in Rwanda.

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/SIMON WOHLFAHRT

But the investigating magistrates considered that the instruction had not established the direct participation of French military forces in abuses committed in refugee camps nor any complicity by aid or assistance to the genocidal forces or complicity by abstention by French soldiers on the hills of Biseserosaid in a press release the Paris prosecutor, Laure Beccuau.

This decision was predictable, since none of the five general officers involved had been indicted at the end of the investigation concluded in July 2018, a necessary step before considering a possible trial.

The prosecution had in fact requested in May 2021 a dismissal in this sensitive file, emblematic of the historic controversy over the objectives of the Turquoise mission, deployed in Rwanda under a UN mandate to put an end to the genocide of the Tutsis.

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According to the UN, the massacres caused more than 800,000 deaths between April and July 1994, mainly within the Tutsi minority.

Rwandan refugees fleeing Kigali during the civil war, May 11, 1994.

Photo: AFP / AFP/Gerard Julien

A dismissal logic on the one hand

This dismissal is perfectly logical, it has been expected for many yearsreacted to AFP Me Pierre-Olivier Lambert, lawyer for three of the general officers, including the head of Turquoise, General Jean-Claude Lafourcade.

The meticulous investigation revealed that the military leaders of Operation Turquoise had carried out their mission with humanity, courage and impartiality.affirmed Me Lambert, considering thatit was time for French justice to finally recognize the irreproachable nature of the mission conducted by French soldiers in Rwanda in 1994.

For Me Emmanuel Bidanda, lawyer for Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of special operations present in Bisesero, it is great satisfaction.

At the end of an ongoing investigation for 17 years with many successive investigating judges, our clients are exonerated and the French army is not complicit in either genocide or crimes against humanity. »

A quote from Me Emmanuel Bidanda, lawyer for Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of special operations present in Bisesero

At the beginning of June, one of the investigating magistrates in charge of the file had ordered the inclusion in the file of a summary of this report published in March 2021, which pointed in particular the deep failure of France during the Bisesero massacres.

For the civil parties, who demanded a trial not only against the soldiers but also against members of the entourage of former President François Mitterrand, never targeted by the investigation, this meant that he wanted to relaunch the investigation.

A “dismaying” dismissal of the other

For Me Eric Plouvier, lawyer for the Survie association, this dismissal is appalling. From a procedural point of view, the judge having “reopened” the instruction and attached new documents should have carried out the formalities provided for by law. On the merits, no criminal consequences have been drawn from the leads opened up by the Duclert report and the elements gathered in the proceedings.he added, announcing his intention to appeal.

It is a judicial disregard for the manifestation of truth. »

A quote from Me Eric Plouvier, lawyer for the Survie association

Me Patrick Baudouin, who defends the FIDH with Me Clémence Bectarte, said to himself extremely disappointed with this decision to dismiss the case after so many years of investigation and gathered elementsfinding harmful than the information [judiciaire] could not continue when requests had been made in the light of the Duclert report.

But Following the analysis of this document, the investigating magistrates considered that a resumption of the judicial information was not justified, because “the documents cited in reference by the authors of the report in support of their findings , in their vast majority, already appeared in the proceedings or found, in the documents of the judicial information, equivalents or a resonance”explained Ms. Beccuau in her press release.

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