Rwanda has released a list of 22 senior French army officers it says knowingly aided the planning and execution of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
The list released by the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) is likely to escalate the row between Kigali and Paris, in the wake of the reopening of investigations by France into the shooting down of a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana.
The move to revive the probe has angered Rwanda, which has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Paris.
In a detailed report issued Monday, CNLG named 22 senior French officers who were operating in Rwanda at the time of the genocide and reportedly had a direct hand in the massacre.
CNLG further says the French military officers must be charged.
“French actors were involved in the genocide both as perpetrators and accomplices, and do not want their acts to be known despite their proofs.
“This is the biggest cause explaining the persistent refusal of the French authorities to validate the ballistic investigation by French experts in Rwanda in 2010 which indicated that missiles were fired from Kanombe military barracks,” the report says.
The French officers include Generals Jacques Lanxade, Christian Quesnot, Jean-Pierre Huchon, Jean-Claude Lafourcade; Colonels Gilbert Canovas, Jacques Rosier, Didier Tauzin, René Galinié and Bernard Cussac.
Others are Colonels Dominique Delort, Jacques Hogard, Jacques Rosier, Patrice Sartre, and Lieutenant Colonels Michel Robardey, Jean-Jacques Maurin and Eric De Stabenrath.
More officers include Captains Etienne Joubert, Paul Barril and Commanders Grégoire De Saint Quentin, Denis Roux and Marin Gillier, all of whom Kigali says there is enough evidence to show that French officers and politicians committed very serious crimes in Rwanda.
Rwanda and France continue to trade accusations over the events that led up to the genocide, with Kigali maintaining that the French, who were the main allies of President Habyarimana's government, abetted the killings.
The two countries also disagree on who downed the plane, which is perceived to have triggered the killings. French judges in 2012 appeared to support the view that Hutu extremists downed the plane, seemingly settling the six-year diplomatic standoff.
Failure to act
According to the report, General Jacques Lanxade, who was the army chief of staff and Gen Christian Quesnot, the special chief of staff of President Mitterrand, failed to act on intelligence they received concerning the genocide.
“The French army under Jacques Lanxade played, in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, the role of a real occupation force, involved in serious crimes.
“As supreme commander of the army, Jacques Lanxade received reports of abuses by the Rwandan army, its massacres, its discriminatory and genocidal policy, but he maintained increased assistance to this criminal army,” the report indicates.
The 82-year old who has since retired from service is accused of providing equipment, logistical and personnel support for the training and development of the Rwandan army at the time. He reportedly approved all French operations in Rwanda.
Gen Lanxade and Gen Quesnot are said to have maintained unwavering support for President Habyarimana despite knowledge of the massacre.
On April 29, 1994, three weeks into the genocide, Gen Quesnot is said to have written extremely offensive words about the RPF, which he described as the most “fascist” party he has met in Africa, and occasionally demonised the rebel group that would eventually end the genocide.
Quesnot and his assistant Gen Jean-Pierre Huchon are said to have worked together to deliver arms, munitions and military equipment to the then government forces before and during the genocide.
“These weapons were used to carry out massacres of innocent civilians killed by the army and paramilitary militias,” the report states.
Lt Col Michel Robardey, another senior French officer who came to Rwanda in 1990 and left in April 1994, allegedly led a team of four French gendarmes who developed a system called "Criminology", a computerised data system containing lists of wanted persons, primarily Tutsi and Hutu political opponents who would be subjected to torture.
The list also includes people like Grégoire De Saint Quentin, Colonel Dominique Delort and Captain Paul Barril, whose names have been echoed many times in regard to the Rwandan genocide.
According to Jean Damascene Bizimana, the CNLG executive secretary, the Government of Rwanda should proceed and file charges against the officers, whose role was ‘explicit and well documented’.
Efforts to get a comment from the Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza were futile by press time, but the Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye said that the revelations should interest Rwanda to press ahead.
“I have seen the document and it looks detailed to the bit. The revelations are a point of serious contention, which the Prosecution should pick interest in and pursue,” said Mr Busingye.
All the accused officers are still alive but in advanced age.
The list is the latest point of contention between Rwanda and France. The two countries have had a tumultuous relationship over the last 22 years. Paris is yet to react to the new development.