World News – UA – Widow of ex-Rwandan leader testifies in genocide case


The widow of former Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, herself accused of participating in the country’s 1994 genocide, appeared in a Paris court on Tuesday to testify on the alleged role of a former French police captain starred in the 100-day massacre

Agathe Habyarimana, 78, broke an absence of several years in public view for the hearing with an investigating judge on allegations against Paul Barril, accused of having entered into an arms contract for several millions of dollars with the interim government of Rwanda at the height of the killings

The widow lived since 1998 in France, which refused to extradite him to Rwanda – while refusing him asylum on the basis of suspicions against him

Rwanda has an outstanding arrest warrant against Habyarimana for genocide and crimes against humanity, accusing him of playing a key role in one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century

After decades of tensions between Rwanda’s ethnic Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority, a series of killings broke out in April 1994 after the plane carrying Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down

Over the next 100 days, some 800,000 people – mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus – were killed

Habyarimana, who fled to Europe three days after the assassination of her husband, is suspected of being part of the inner circle of Hutu regime that planned and orchestrated the genocide

In France, Habyarimana is under investigation and has been questioned twice: in 2010 as a witness, and in 2016 as an « assisted witness » – a person suspected of a crime but not officially charged under French law

His appearance in court on Tuesday was not about his own alleged role, but rather that of Barril

An investigation into « complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity » against him was opened seven years ago after three human rights groups, including the International Federation for Human Rights man (FIDH), have filed a complaint

According to the groups, Barril made around $ 1.2 million from the sale of weapons which would have resulted in the supply of large quantities of ammunition, shells, mortars and grenades

He had been an officer of the French National Gendarmerie under President François Mitterrand, but in the 1980s he operated as a private security contractor for African heads of state

He is now 74 years old and suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He has denied any involvement in the Rwandan genocide

Eric Plouffe, lawyer of one of the advocacy groups, welcomed the audience Tuesday so many years after the opening of an investigation

The file « appears to contain serious and consistent evidence justifying his indictment (of Barril) for complicity in the crime of genocide, » Plouvier told AFP

Several members of Rwanda’s caretaker government during the genocide were convicted by the International Criminal Court for Rwanda Thousands more were tried by Rwandan courts and people’s courts

After a major remaining fugitives, the alleged financier of the genocide Felicien Kabuga, was arrested in France in May, only the main suspects remain at large Kabuga will be tried in The Hague

Agathe Habyarimana, Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, the Rwandan genocide, Paul Barril

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– AU – widow of the former Rwandan leader if testifies to the genocide linked


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