Det var den rwandiske hæren og ikke Paul Kagames styrker, som skjøt ned flyet med president Habyarimana i april 1994. Nedskytingen ble startskuddet for folkemordet på tutsier og moderate hutuer.
Det er en fransk ekspertgruppe som har kommet til denne konklusjonen som ble mottatt med stor lettelse i Kigali.
Den franske etterforskningsdommeren Jean-Louis Bruguiere la i sin tid skylden på Kagamas soldater. Han etterforsket saken på vegne av de to drepte pilotene som var franske. Beskyldningen fikk Kigali til å bryte forbindelsene med Frankrike.
Hvorfor skulle hæren skyte ned sin egen president? Habyarimana ble ansett for å være for moderat og for bløt mot tutsiene. Ekstreme elementer hadde forberedt folkemordet i lang tid, og trengte et påskudd. De skaffet det ved å drepe presidenten og legge skylden på tutsienes opprørshær. Ingen kunne tro at hæren kunne skyte ned sin egen president.
The experts’ report concluded that the missile that downed the plane was fired from a base held by loyalist forces from Habyarimana’s Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), lawyer Bernard Maingain said.
There was no official confirmation of the conclusion of the report and the judicial inquiry continues.
But the report was swiftly welcomed by Kigali as a «vindication» for Kagame.
The assassination of Habyarimana was one of the triggers that unleashed a genocide that left around 800,000 Rwandans dead.
And the question of where the ground-to-air missile was fired was seen as key to establishing the credibility of two rival accounts of the attack.
The slain pilots on board Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 jet were French citizens, giving anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere grounds on which to investigate.
After an initial investigation, he alleged that a small commando team from Kagame’s then rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front had infiltrated the area around the airport and fired the missile that downed his enemy’s plane.
Eight Rwandans close to Kagame were placed under investigation by France for the attack.
But a new French judge who took over the case after Brugiere’s retirement, and — amid a thaw in relations — was able to send six experts to Rwanda to inspect the scene of the attack and find out where the missile was fired.
A parallel Rwandan inquiry had already found that the attack was launched from a base held by loyalist forces from Habyarimana’s FAR, targeting their own leader because he was seen as too moderate.
The French experts have now come to the same conclusion, according to the lawyer for the eight Rwandans, and judge Marc Trevidic will now have to decide whether to drop Brugiere’s allegations against Kagame’s camp.
«Our clients who were unjustly accused and investigated for years have now been proved right,» said Mangain.