Friday, December 10, 2010

WikiLeaks cables: Bernard Kouchner wanted Bruguiere indictments annulled

By RNA Reporters
December 10, 2010  

Kigali: Former French top diplomat Bernard Kouchner unsuccessfully tried to have the annulation of the contested indictments of Judge Jean Louis Bruguiere, but when he failed, he went for another very controversial method, new details show.

From the time he entered office as French Foreign Affairs Minister in May 2007, Kouchner, a close personal friend to President Kagame, sought to have the 2006 indictments abandoned for the sake of Rwanda-France relations. Bruguiere had indicted nine military officers over the alleged shooting of ex-president Habyarimana’s plane on April 06, 1994.

However, when he seemed to have failed, Kouchner and his staff – and probably with knowledge from the highest French establishment, chose to plead with Rwanda officials to allow one of the nine inductees to deliberately hand themselves to the French courts.

According to a cable released by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, the US embassy in Paris reported back to Washington on October 01, 2009 that French officials proposed to Rwanda that one of the nine inductees offer to be subjected to a French trial such that the whole dossier could be made public.

When state protocol Rose Kabuye was arrested in Germany on November 09 and subsequently extradited to Paris, French newspaper Le Monde reported this same information, but both Kigali and Paris denied any such move.

The leaked cable lays bare the entire behind-the-scenes maneuvers. In discussions in the weeks which followed, Charlotte Montel, a senior advisor to Kouchner, confirmed to Andrew Young, Political Counselor at the US embassy in Paris of the existence of the plan.

“Montel conceded that several (Government of France] officials had quietly suggested to the Rwandans that one of the nine agree to be arrested, which would allow the Rwandans to see what kind of case the French had against the nine,” wrote Young, in the cable sent October 01, 2009.

According to the cable, Montel told the Americans that Rose Kabuye or any other of the nine, who accepted to go through the charges, would be “a test case”.

The French aide to Bernard Kouchner also confirmed moves from the Foreign Ministry to have the Bruguiere indictments annulled by the new investigating judge on the case such that he would restart the probe afresh. French judge Marc Trévidic took over the dossier with the retirement of Bruguiere.

“Montel did mention that the current investigative judge could, on his own motion, annul Bruguiere's warrants and carry out the investigation in another manner, which might perhaps be the best course in terms of improving relations,” wrote Young, to his bosses in Washington.

“However, given the vaunted independence of the French judiciary, we are not confident that the judge will choose that course of action.”

This US embassy cable also gives insights as what the new President Nicholas Sarkozy government was thinking about the indictments. When the indictments were issued, Rwanda reacted with fury, severing relations completely with Paris. Rwanda argued that the indicted individuals had not been given chance to explain themselves, and that Bruguiere was supposed to have come to Rwanda before.

But according to this cable, French officials explained to the US government that the indictments were a preliminary level of the whole process. That Bruguiere would have eventually come to Rwanda to complete the dossier.

“Montel explained that the warrants Bruguiere had issued were in effect arrest warrants that would allow the investigating judge to question the nine Rwandans pursuant to the judge's inquiry into the 1994 events,” reads the cable.

“The warrants were not indictments but more in the nature of subpoenas for detailed depositions. One reason Rwanda reacted so strongly to the warrants was the fact that the French investigating judge, if he had wanted, could have gone to Rwanda and asked to interview the nine, rather than making them the objects of international arrest warrants.”

Related Materials:
Major Rwandan Genocide Criminal Arrested. Kagame Gets an Early X-mas Gift!


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