French judicial officials on Wednesday charged the longtime comrade-in-arms of Rwanda’s president over an assassination in the run-up to the 1994 genocide, as anti-European protests unfolded in Kigali.
Large numbers were seen by an AFP correspondent converging on the German embassy and the local offices of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle late on Wednesday.
Germany extradited Rose Kabuye, a former guerrilla leader who now serves as chief of protocol to President Paul Kagame, 10 days after police acting on a French warrant arrested her as she arrived at Frankfurt airport. Shortly thereafter, the German ambassador to Rwanda was expelled.
French officials took charge of her in Frankfurt, and she was flown to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris aboard an Air France jet.
From there she was transferred to the main law courts in Paris to appear before anti-terrorism investigating magistrate Marc Trevidic, Kabuye’s lawyer Bernard Maingain told AFP.
Judicial officials later confirmed Kabuye was put under judicial investigation, and in effect, charged with “complicity in murder in relation to terrorism”.
She was later released on condition she not leave France without permission and appear when requested by magistrates, her lawyers said.
“I’m not so scared because I am very innocent,” Kabuye said on the France24 television news channel after being released. “I know that when I get a chance to explain what happened everything will be okay, so I am not scared,” she added.
French investigators suspect Kabuye, 47, of involvement in the downing of an executive jet that killed presidents Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi and two French pilots on April 6, 1994.
Habyarimana’s ethnic Hutu supporters went on the rampage following the attack, slaughtering 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu men, women and children in a 100-day orgy of bloodletting.
French investigators accuse Kagame’s Tutsi rebels of attacking the Falcon 500 jet, although other observers have speculated that Hutu hardliners killed their own president to serve as a pretext for the subsequent killings.
Kabuye was a senior military leader during Kagame’s successful war to drive out the genocidal Hutu militias, and the arrest of his trusted lieutenant has cast a fresh chill on already frosty ties with France.
Rwanda severed diplomatic relations with Paris in 2006 after a French anti-terrorism judge issued their first arrest warrants over the case.
Kagame accuses France of having actively supported the Hutu militias, and the legal dispute has stymied attempts by both governments to re-establish friendly ties 14 years after the massacre.
He has accused Europe of persecuting the genocide’s survivors instead of hunting its perpetrators, some of whom are said to be living in Europe. Large numbers are also believed to be involved in unrest currently shaking neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It is not only Rose who is in the dock, it is Rwanda that is in the dock,” Kagame said on Monday.
Her arrest led to three days of demonstrations in Rwanda and on Wednesday tens of thousands of people again took to the streets of Kigali to vent their anger.
Kigali, however, may soon turn the tables on Paris.
Judicial sources there say Rwandan prosecutors could soon issue warrants and indictments against some of the 33 political and military French officials named in a Rwandan report on France’s alleged role in the events of 1994.
These who could find themselves accused include former prime ministers Alain Juppe and Dominique de Villepin and former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine.
Some European investigators fear that Kabuye deliberately delivered herself to German authorities so her lawyers could gain access to the case files prepared against her and other Kagame allies.