Date: Wed, 15 Apr 98 18:10:17 CDT
Organization: PACH
Subject: France Haunted By Rwanda Genocide
Article: 32448
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
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/** disarm.armstra: 868.0 **/ ** Topic: (Rwanda)France Haunted By Rwanda Genocide ** ** Written 7:49 AM Apr 14, 1998 by in cdp:disarm.armstra **

France haunted by Rwanda genocide

By Julian Nundy, The Telegraph, 14 April 1998

THE massacre of Tutsis by Hutu forces in Rwanda in 1994 has come back to haunt France, as the people begin to learn that their country may have had some responsibility for the killings that the United Nations has since officially classified as genocide.

In one of the remarks that typified his cynical view of the world, the late Socialist president, Franois Mitterrand, told his staff: In some countries, genocide is not really important. But four years after the massacre, estimated by the UN to have wiped out at least 800,000 people, the issue severely embarrasses M Mitterrand's son, Jean-Christophe, who was his father's chief adviser on African policy, and all of France's political establishment.

On Wednesday, the current Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, agreed to lift official secrecy on French military involvement in Rwanda at hearings of a parliamentary information committee that began just over two weeks ago. The committee, due to hear the younger M Mitterrand on April 22, heard a Belgian expert on Rwanda say this week that the missiles that brought down the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents on April 6, 1994, sparking the massacres of Tutsis, came from French stocks.

Prof Filip Reyntjens, of Antwerp University, said he had heard from officials in several Western countries that the two Soviet-made Sam-16Gimlet missiles that destroyed the chartered French Dassault Falcon jet came from arms confiscated by French forces in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war. This did not necessarily prove official French involvement, however; he and other sources said the arms could have been sold by unscrupulous dealers.

One peculiarity of what looks likely to become a huge scandal, as the charges against French officialdom vary from a callous refusal to intervene to stop the killings to providing arms long after international embargoes had been imposed, is that it touches the whole French political spectrum, from Left to Right.

At the time, France's prime minister, Edouard Balladur, a Gaullist, ran a conservative cabinet in cohabitation with the Socialist president, who retained control over foreign and defence affairs. The ministers carrying out his policy were all of the Right, demonstrating in Le Figaro's words the complicity of decision-makers. This week, M Balladur said he was scandalised by the implication of a series of articles in the French press alleging wrongdoing by his government.

France, he said, which had sent troops into Rwanda under its Operation Turquoise in 1994, was the only big Western power to intervene. But media reports abroad—angrily denied at the time in Paris—spoke of French officials and military officers looking away as the killings were in progress or even helping the Hutu forces.