A court in France has rejected a bid by Rwanda to extradite the widow of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose murder prompted the genocide in 1994 that led to the mass killings of up to 1,000,000 people.
Agathe Habyarimana, 69. has been a resident of France for seventeen years, and denies any culpability for the genocide. Rwandan authorities claimed she helped plan the genocide.
Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, died on April 6, 1994, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport. His killing led to bloody reprisal attacks by Hutus against Tutsis that soon spread across the small East African nation.
However, it has never been confirmed who was responsible for shooting down his aircraft.
Just prior to the conflict that tore Rwanda apart, French military forces flew her (and thirty members of her Hutu clan) safely out of the country to France. Upon arriving in Paris, she reportedly received 230,000 francs from the French government.
She was believed to be one of the principal powers during her husband’s 20-year presidency.
The Rwandan genocide was one of the worst humanitarian disasters since World War II. Lasting only about 100 days, the death toll is estimated at between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people (or up to 20 percent of the country’s population).
Mrs. Habyarimana told reporters after the Paris court delivered its judgment: I'm relieved; I've always had faith in the French justice system.
However, she still faces a case in France's civil courts that was launched by human rights activists. Her attorney Philippe Meilhac said the court’s ruling on the extradition case would likely weaken the civil case.
We can't stay like this for ever. The very serious accusations against Mrs. Habyarimana are old and completely denied by Mrs. Habyarimana, he said.