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

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

French soldiers take part in Operation Turquoise in Rwanda on June 26, 1994 near the town of Kayove.

French justice continues to settle sensitive cases related to the genocide in Rwanda: a general dismissal has been ordered in the investigation into the inaction alleged against the #x27;French army during the Bisesero massacres at the end of June 1994.

Seventeen years after the opening of this judicial investigation, and four years after its closure, two investigating judges from the Paris court signed a dismissal order on September 1, learned the x27;AFP Wednesday from sources familiar with the matter.

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 Tutsi civilian refugees for three days. in the hills of Bisesero, in the west of the country, 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 that took place there at the end of June 1994, within the framework of the genocide in Rwanda.

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

This decision was foreseeable 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. /p>

The prosecution had in fact requested in May 2021 a dismissal of this sensitive file, emblematic of the historic controversy over the objectives of the Turquoise mission, deployed in Rwanda under the mandate of the x27;UN to stop the genocide of the Tutsis.

According to the UN, the massacres left more than 800,000 dead between April and July 1994, mainly among the Tutsi minority.

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

This dismissal is perfectly logical, it has been expected for many years, reacted 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 showed that the military leaders of Operation Turquoise had carried out their mission with humanity, courage and impartiality, said Mr. Lambert, believing that it was time for French justice to recognize finally the irreproachable nature of the mission carried out by the French soldiers in Rwanda in 1994.

For Me Emmanuel Bidanda, lawyer for Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of special operations present in Bisesero, it&# x27;is a 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. »

— 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 to the profound failure of France during the Bisesero massacres. /p>

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 #x27;investigation, it meant that he wanted to start the investigation again.

For Me Eric Plouvier, lawyer for the Survie association, this dismissal is appalling. From a procedural point of view, the judge having "reopened" 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 by the Duclert report and from the elements gathered in the proceedings, he added, announcing his intention to appeal.

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

— Me Eric Plouvier, lawyer for the association Survie

Me Patrick Baudouin, who defends the FIDH with Me Clémence Bectarte, said he was extremely disappointed with this decision to dismiss the case after so many years of investigation and evidence gathered, finding it unfortunate that the [judicial] information could not continue then that requests had been made in view of the Duclert report.

But following the analysis of this document, the investigating magistrates considered that a resumption of the judicial investigation 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 were, in the parts of the judicial information, equivalents or resonance”, explained Ms. Beccuau in her press release.

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