The court rejects the extradition of the widow of President Habyarimana

The court rejects the extradition of the widow of President Habyarimana

Versailles : France | Sep 28, 2011 at 9:13 PM PDT
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The Paris Court of Appeal on Wednesday rejected the extradition request from Rwanda, Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of the Rwandan president whose assassination triggered the genocide of 1994.

Based in France, Agathe Kanziga, Habyarimana's widow, is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued in October 2009 by the Rwandan authorities for "genocide" and "crimes against humanity."

As part of this arrest warrant, she was briefly arrested and heard by the French court in March 2010, days after a visit of Nicolas Sarkozy in Rwanda, the first by a French president since the genocide.

"I'm relieved, I have always trusted the French justice," responded Mrs. Habyarimana after the decision of the court of appeal made in his presence and that of several of his relatives.

For its part, the Attorney General of Rwanda, Martin Ngoga said "not surprised". "There is no precedent for extradition from France," he told AFP.

"We have no problem if France decided to organize a trial in France, we would have only one if France decided to do nothing," he added.

Mrs Habyarimana is in French territory without legal status as all requests for residence permits were rejected. She is now awaiting a decision by the Administrative Court of Versailles on his appeal against the rejection of his last request.

Evacuated in the early days of the genocide to France by French soldiers, and finally settled in France in 1998, Agathe Habyarimana is often presented as a member of the "Akazu" the inner circle of power that fomented the genocide.

It is the subject of an investigation since 2008 in Paris for "complicity in genocide", following a complaint from a French organization, the Collective of plaintiffs for Rwanda (CPCR).

"This decision of the Court of Appeal will raise the question of the fate of this procedure. We'll have the judges make a decision, take the initiative to convene or not Mrs Habyarimana," said his lawyer Philippe Meilhac.

"We're not going to stay forever in this situation. The facts very serious charges against Mrs Habyarimana are old and totally denied by Mrs Habyarimana," he added.

For his lawyer, Mrs. Habyarimana wants to "live peacefully in France with a residence card marked private and family life + +. It is not a threat to public order as claimed by the prefect."

The attack against the plane carrying her husband April 6, 1994 is considered the trigger signal of the genocide, which caused about 800,000 deaths, according to the UN.

"Since Judge Bruguiere said that the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, currently in power) that killed my husband, they began to demonize me because they know that I am a civil party," he said Mrs Habyarimana.

"I am attacked because they do not want the outbreak of the truth about those who have gone down the plane with my husband," said the widow of the president.

Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere launched in 2006 nine arrest warrants against relatives of the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, as part of this investigation.

In December, six of the nine persons covered by the French mandates were under investigation, resulting in the immediate lifting of their arrest warrants, the judge by his successor, Marc Trévidic.

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Agathe Habyarimana in 1977
Agathe Habyarimana in 1977
rsa76 is based in Karāchi, Sind, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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