France ill-placed to try genocide suspects: Rwanda

None | ByAgence France-Presse, Arusha
Oct 27, 2006 03:39 PM IST

Rwanda says France is ill-placed to try genocide suspects owing to its suspected complicity in the central African nation's 1994 mass slaughter.

Rwanda on Friday said France was ill-placed to try genocide suspects in French courts owing to its suspected complicity in the tiny central African nation's 1994 mass slaughter.

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Kigali's representative to the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said the allegations, now being probed by Rwanda, that France trained and armed militia during the genocide eroded its judicial competence in the matter.

"It is surprising. How can France, which faces serious accusations of roles in the genocide, try genocide suspects?" said Aloys Mutabingwa.

Early this month, the Tanzania-based ICTR announced that France, along with Belgium and the Netherlands, had accepted to try genocide suspects living in their territories in their local courts as part of plans to ease the workload of the backlogged tribunal.

"The case of France is very unique," Mutabingwa told the agency.

"France harbours a huge number of suspects. Why hasn't it arrested them and transferred them to the ICTR?"

He blamed the tribunal for failing to consult with Kigali on the matter.

"This is being done without our knowledge. We are being ignored whereas this is supposed to be Rwandan justice," he said.

On Tuesday, Rwanda opened public hearings into claims of French complicity in the genocide.

Some witnesses testified that French soldiers trained and joked with the extremist Hutu Interahamwe militia blamed for the death of some 800,000 people.

Another witness said the troops played volleyball on mass graves and expressed shock at their insensitivity.

The government panel is to hand in its report in six months and determine whether to pursue legal action at the International Court of Justice.

Although France denies the allegations, a former French soldier last year alleged that French troops had trained the militia responsible for the killings in the two years leading up to the genocide.

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