By Eric Vandebroeck and co-workers

A review in the NYT today about How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation by the longtime Africa specialist Michela Wrong similar to our 2003 article about the subject describes how a cycle of the tragedy began under European rule when first Germans and then Belgians began formalizing ethnicity in what is now Rwanda and Burundi. And proceeds with what led to the April violence between the two groups escalated monstrously in 1972, with a coup attempt in Burundi, whose ethnic composition mirrors that of Rwanda. Little heed was paid to it at the time, and Wrong mentions it only in passing, but the coup turned into one of the worst ethnic killing sprees of the 20th century. Hundreds of thousands of Hutu were slaughtered by a Tutsi army, and thousands of others streamed into Rwanda, where tales of their persecution further radicalized the Hutu majority. Twenty-two years later, the much larger genocide against Rwandan Tutsi took the world by surprise, but the Burundi coup had set the stage.

On 7 April, exactly 27 years after the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis began,  Rwanda's permanent representative to the UN said that a rise in denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi in academia, media, and even some circles in government institutions, has been observed.

The Rwandan genocide erupted following the plane crash of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana. For the next 100 days, armed militias engaged in a killing spree against the ethnic minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. In total, some 800,000 people died. The French, who were allies of the Hutu government under Habyarimana, had sent a special force to evacuate their citizens and set up safe zones. Although they witnessed the horror all around them, to this day, they are accused of having done very little to stop the killing.

As we will see, part of that might be because some of the perpetrators still have their abode in France.

Having covered the subject and from a different perspective in 2003, particularly the French side (which contradicts a disputed article in the Larousse Junior edition 2020), it is time to revisit this subject.

In fact, since 2003, there has been a fair share of misleading information, so for example, in The Politics of Genocide (2010), writers Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, while not denying the scale of the killing during the period of the extreme violence of April–July 1994, questioned the distribution of the victims for those months, arguing among others that Hutus comprised the majority of the dead, not Tutsis.

Africa specialist Gerald Caplan rightfully criticized Herman and Peterson's account, charging that "why the Hutu members of the government 'couldn't possibly have planned genocide against the Tutsi' is never remotely explained." Herman and Peterson's position on the genocide was found "deplorable" by James Wizeye, first secretary at the Rwandan High Commission in London. Adam Jones has compared Herman and Peterson's approach to Holocaust denial, a term rejected by said authors.

This while U.S. officials in Rwanda had been warned more than a year before the 1994 slaughter began that Hutu extremists were contemplating the extermination of ethnic Tutsis, according to a review panel’s released transcript and declassified State Department documents obtained by Foreign Policy from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

An August 1992 diplomatic cable to Washington, written by Joyce Leader, the U.S. Embassy’s deputy chief of mission in Kigali, cited warnings that Hutu extremists linked to Rwanda’s ruling party were believed to be advocating the extermination of ethnic Tutsis. On the morning the killing began in April 1994, there was little doubt about Rwanda's happening.

A good example of the denial campaign could be seen when a few weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi, in March 2004, a news story on the front page of Le Monde caused a sensation. It claimed to have untied a Gordian knot and offered new information about who assassinated President Habyarimana on Wednesday, 6 April 1994. After six years of investigation, the paper announced that a French judge determined that the responsibility belonged to the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and that the current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, gave the order.1

The story was timed to perfection, dominating the anniversary coverage and continuing into the following weeks. The information had come from the office of a French investigating magistrate, Judge Jean-Louis  Bruguière, who, in March 1998, began an inquiry on behalf of the families of the three French aircrews whose salaries were paid by the French state and who had died in the missile attack on the Falcon jet. Le Monde claimed the judge had ‘hundreds of witnesses’ including dissidents, who had spoken of a ‘network commando,’ a hit squad under the orders of Kagame and responsible for the attack.

The newspaper quoted a  key witness, Abdul Ruzibiza, who explained, ‘Paul Kagame did not care about the Tutsi living in Rwanda, and they had to be eliminated.’ Ruzibiza revealed how he had helped to stake out the assassins' location at a farm in Masaka some four kilometers from the airport. He saw them arrive in a Toyota, the missiles hidden in the back under rubbish and empty cardboard boxes. Ruzibiza eventually wrote a book published in 2005 at over 400 pages, provided a  litany of alleged RPF human rights violations.2

When Le Monde published its scoop, the trial of Bagosora had been underway for two years at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This new element was quickly introduced into the courtrooms and used to support the idea that Hutu Power was the victim of a monster plot and that a French judge had proved it. The story in Le Monde supported the claims already suggested in the trial that the killing was an angry reaction to the death of the president.3

After the publication of his report two years later, on 17 November 2006, Bruguière wrote to Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, to ask the then prosecutor of the ICTR, Carla Del Ponte, to take action. He lobbied Del Ponte to put Kagame and the RPF in the dock. The reaction at the ICTR came from spokesperson Everard O’Donnell, who told excited reporters the court thought that the assassination did not cause the genocide.4 In response to the publication of the full report, the Rwandan government, severed diplomatic relations with France.

Later in November, Judge Bruguière issued international arrest warrants for nine members of the RPF he deemed responsible for the assassination. As a classified cable from the US embassy in Paris informed the state department in Washington, the judge could simply have gone to Rwanda and asked to interview the nine rather than make them the objects of international arrest warrants.5 All nine were currently serving in senior government positions in the government. Kagame himself was immune from prosecution under French law as a head of state.

In early 2007, Judge Bruguière met the US ambassador, Craig Roberts Stapleton, in Paris. The judge admitted to Stapleton that he consulted President Jacques Chirac before issuing the warrants to ensure the French government was prepared for a backlash from Rwanda. Bruguière explained that the ‘international community had a moral responsibility to pursue justice. Stapleton reported how Bruguière did not hide his personal desire to see Paul Kagame's government isolated and had warned him that closer US ties with Rwanda would be a mistake. Bruguière casually mentioned that he was standing for a parliamentary seat later in the year and that a cabinet post as minister of justice would be his first choice.6

In the years to come, the story of the guilt of Kagame and the RPF filled books, newspaper articles, and academic research. Not everyone was fooled.7 Colette Braeckman, a member of the editorial board and African editor of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, said she had heard the story before in an ‘investigation’ produced by an investigator at the ICTR, Michael Hourigan, an Australian prosecutor researching evidence against Bagosora. Witnesses had come forward just as Colonel Théoneste Bagosora made his first appearance in court in February 1997. They approached investigators in a Kigali bar to say they knew all about the assassination and were part of a secret ‘network’ that Paul Kagame created. They were implicated in the assassination, they said.

Strangely, however, none was subject to arrest, and Hourigan told superiors he could not ‘provide any advice as to the reliability of these informers.8 Hourigan explained how his team members began to meet former members of the defeated Rwandan army in Kenya and Europe, who urged them to investigate another ‘possibility’ and the secretive Paul Kagame. He seemed to believe without question what he was told.

For Braeckman, the only new element in the Le Monde article in March 2004 was testimony provided by Ruzibiza, the star witness. Braeckman met him a year earlier in May 2003 in Kampala, Uganda, when he was peddling information about the assassination. Braeckman had spent the evening with him when he suggested they write a book together and look for finance. Braeckman asked about the topography of the places he mentioned; where had the team of assassins waited?

How did they get there? How long had they waited? Who told them the plane’s arrival was imminent? Ruzibiza was confused, said Braeckman, and unsure of details. She never saw him again and was told later he had gone to Paris. Braeckman thought the French intelligence service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) picked him up and until the story broke in Le Monde, she had no news of him.9 Braeckman may not have known that a year earlier, Ruzibiza had been in touch with investigators from the ICTR, and had given a statement in Kampala in May 2002.10

One claim in the Bruguière report cast doubt on all the others, calling into question the thoroughness of his ongoing investigation. In his report, Judge Bruguière accused the RPF of the earlier assassination in February 1994, only weeks before the genocide of the Tutsi began, of the popular, moderate, and conciliatory politician Félicien Gatabazi. Gatabazi was shot three times in the back as he ran from his vehicle to escape his killers. Bruguière claimed he had information from witnesses and took this information at face value. As a result, he failed to acknowledge an investigation carried out by three members of an international unit of sixty civilian police officers from the UN Civilian Police (CIVPOL), a UN Assistance Mission component in Rwanda (UNAMIR). Their inquiries had shown Hutu Power operatives killed Gatabazi, and the assassination was the subject of a high-level cover-up in an attempt to blame the RPF. Two vital witnesses, a female taxi driver and a driver for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who saw the killers make a getaway, died soon afterward, one in a grenade attack the following day and the other in a supposed suicide.

The CIVPOL officers had cooperated with the public prosecutor, François-Xavier Nsanzuwera, who conducted his own inquiries into the murder of Gatabazi immediately after the event. On 28 March, two CIVPOL officers witnessed his arrest of Faustin Rwagatera, the Las Vegas bar manager in Kigali who operated his own gang of Interahamwe, was a brothel-keeper, and allegedly accompanied the assassins. He was spotted with four suspects, three of the Presidential Guards.

When Rwagatera refused to provide information about the murder, Nsanzuwera charged him with obstruction of justice and sent him in handcuffs to the 1930 prison. Immediately afterward, Nsanzuwera received a death threat and wrote the next day to General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, the gendarmerie's head, for immediate protection.11 At the same time, the minister of defense, Major-General Augustin Bizimana, warned the CIVPOL officers to find a ‘new orientation’ in their work.

Despite these attempts at the highest level to prevent their investigation, the CIVPOL police inspectors continued to make headway. They obtained access to the white Mitsubishi that Gatabazi had abandoned that night, fleeing a hail of bullets. The police officers retrieved four cartridges from the vehicle from R-4 rifles used by both Rwandan gendarmes and the army.

The CIVPOL investigation was further hampered by the Centre de Recherche Criminelle et de Documentation (CRCD), a corrupt criminal investigation branch of the national gendarmerie, a largely incompetent force. An officer of the CRCD refused to hand over an AK-47, complete with a shoulder strap, found hidden near the crime scene. The CIVPOL officers made sure their superior officers were aware of their difficulties and sent regular reports on the Gatabazi inquiry to the head of CIVPOL, Colonel Manfred Bliem, an Austrian police commissioner.12 They copied their information to the UN special representative, the Cameroonian diplomat Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh. Their superiors were informed that they needed to interview senior politicians, army officers, and Presidential Guards and that there was interference with their investigation at the highest possible levels in the course of their inquiries. No one seemed interested.13

Eventually, the CIVPOL police acquired the names of the alleged organizers of the assassination and the identities of four suspects who fired the shots. Nsanzuwera believed that if events in April had not intervened, the case could have gone to trial. Instead, as the genocide of the Tutsi began, the gates of Kigali’s prisons were opened, and Rwagatera was among the hundreds of prisoners released. He went looking for Nsanzuwera, breaking into his house in Rugenge, a residential district in the capital, on Tuesday, 12 April, along with a gang of Interahamwe, and found and killed a student, Médard Twahirwa, Nsanzuwera’s brother-in-law. Nsanzuwera also discovered that gendarmes and Interahamwe had broken into his office and taken away his safe.14 Inside were the files on the murder of Félicien Gatabazi that were now lost forever.15

If Judge Bruguière had wanted to interview Nsanzuwera on what he knew of the assassination of Gatabazi, again, he would have been able to do so. After the genocide, Nsanzuwera went to work in Arusha for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Here he wrote a landmark report on the Interahamwe for the prosecutors. It provided a valuable list of the terrorist crimes of this militia between 1992 and 1994.16 From its early beginnings as the youth wing of the presidential party, Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND), it had been transformed into a killing machine. Unlike the other political parties' youth groups, this was a criminal organization, he wrote, with an effective command structure, comprising a national committee divided into six commissions. It had support at the highest level, from the ruling Hutu elite, the gendarmerie's senior ranks, and the Presidential Guard.

There was no doubt that the Bruguière report was flawed. Another failure of his argument was the lack of forensic work, ballistics, or on-the-ground investigation of the crash site. A credibility gap existed in the report’s material evidence that only included five photographs showing parts of missile launchers and some serial numbers. These photographs had already been dismissed in a 1998 French National Assembly report and could have come from anywhere.17

The story of missile launchers and serial numbers originated with Colonel Théoneste Bagosora.18 The numbers were on missile launchers apparently discovered by chance on 25 April 1994 on Masaka Hill by an anonymous peasant. The missile parts were then taken to an army camp where a Rwandan soldier, Lieutenant Augustin Munyaneza, had examined them and written a report. Colonel Bagosora gave the information on the launchers to a Belgian academic, Filip Reyntjens, who wrote a book about the assassination. By this time, inconveniently, the launchers had apparently been taken abroad and given to a Zairean general, where they had disappeared. According to the Bruguière report, the numbers on these missiles corresponded with missiles that could be traced and ‘sold by Russia to Uganda and then given to the RPF.’

The Bruguière investigators appeared not to have interviewed any of the direct witnesses to the event. Within minutes of the assassination, Colonel Luc Marchal, commander of the Kigali sector of UNAMIR, was aware of two eyewitnesses close enough to see where the missiles came from, both agreeing it was the military camp at Kanombe. Another witness, Dr. Massimo Pasuch, a Belgian military doctor, was at his home in the heavily fortified Rwandan camp with all windows and doors open and so close that he distinctly heard the ‘whoosh’ as each missile left its casing. Pasuch described traces in the night sky as they went towards the plane. Lieutenant Colonel Walter Balis, the liaison officer between UNAMIR and the RPF, saw the missiles depart and believed it impossible for the RPF to infiltrate Kanombe camp. A Belgian corporal, Mathieu Gerlache, Gerlache, on the viewing platform of a disused air control tower, had a perfect view as the missiles left from the direction of Kanombe, the second scoring a direct hit when the aircraft exploded.

As a result of these failings, Bruguière received wide criticism for his partial text. He seemed determined to accuse the president of Rwanda rather than seek the truth.19 This did not prevent journalists from happily quoting him while not apparently having read his report. For example, in 2007, the BBC’s Stephen Sackur on HARDtalk accused President Kagame directly:

You know that Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière has been working on that case for many, many years. You also know that he is one of the most respected judges in all of France. He has a track record of tracking down terrorists, bringing them to justice. He has been working on your case, and he has, I have it here, about seventy pages of documentary evidence …

Judge Bruguière comes up with this conclusion: ‘the final order to attack the presidential plane was given by Paul Kagame himself during a meeting held in Mulindi on 31 March 1994’. In a major development, the investigating magistrate Marc Trévidic and his colleague Nathalie Poux assumed responsibility for the outstanding Judge Bruguière dossiers in Paris. Bruguière had left the service, having been told that his political activity was incompatible with judicial duties.20 Trévidic was to become one of the best-known investigating magistrates in France. In interviews, he made a point of saying that being a nuisance to governments was exactly what an investigating magistrate was meant to do. Old investigations never died, he said. It was often the case that with unsolved crimes, the information could surface many years later. The dossier he inherited on the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi proved his point.21

Trévidic suspended the arrest warrants for the nine Rwandan officials, and, with a team of six French scientists and his colleague Nathalie Poux, he visited the crash site. The team included experts in missile technology and aviation, air accident investigators, a geometrician, and an explosives expert. They carried out a series of tests on the Falcon 50 jet wreckage that remained where it had fallen sixteen years earlier.

The investigation broadened in other ways. In the course of the visit, they interviewed previously ignored Rwandan witnesses who had seen the missile fire in the sky and took them back to where they had been standing that night. They included the president’s bodyguards and soldiers from Kanombe camp who had given evidence to Rwanda’s own commission of experts established in 2008 to investigate the assassination. The commission, named after its chair, Justice Jean Mutsinzi, a former president of the Supreme Court, brought in experts from the United Kingdom’s National Defence Academy for scientific advice and analysis.22 In a detailed report in January 2010, it had concluded that Hutu extremists brought the plane down to destroy the Arusha Accords, and the missiles came from an area controlled by the Presidential Guard.23

The French judges' keen interest in the Mutsinzi report was matched only by a concern to properly understand events in the immediate aftermath, including the targeted killings of pro-democracy politicians, among them the prime minister and the president of the Constitutional Court. They asked for information on the circumstances of the murder of the ten Belgian peacekeepers. They asked for copies of Hutu extremist newspapers and magazines and the transcripts of recordings of the hate radio station, RTLM, all of which predicted that the president would die for having agreed to share power with ‘Tutsi rebels.

An initial 400-page report published by the French investigating magistrates in January 2012 explained how the first missile missed the plane, but the second ignited 3,000 liters of kerosene in the fuel tank.24 The plane, traveling at 222 kilometers an hour and an altitude of  1,646 meters, became a ball of fire in the night sky and, traveling onwards for some seven seconds, eventually hit the ground, disintegrating as it did so. The plane fell into the presidential villa's garden, where the president’s wife was preparing a barbecue for her husband. The mangled bodies of the twelve victims were in the wreckage.

The missile fire came, in all probability, from a 300-meter radius within the confines of the most secure army camp in the country at Kanombe, adjacent to the airport. This domain of some thirty hectares was under twenty-four-hour surveillance by platoons of soldiers operating a shift system and linked to the presidential villa by a private track. The missile fire could only have come from within the camp perimeter, mostly the scrubland to the south.

The new report effectively destroyed the Bruguière conclusions that the missiles had been fired from Masaka, a hill four kilometers east of the airport. The judge had relied solely on witness testimony, and all of them, including several convicted génocidaires, convinced him that the missiles came from Masaka, where a peasant found the launchers. Bruguière apparently fell for an elaborately staged deception. It was fake news from the start, intended to cause a diversion, propped up with false statements, manufactured evidence, manipulated witnesses, and forged testimony. Jean-François Dupaquier, author and expert on these matters, described it as having been responsible for malevolent people who had taken part in the corruption of the judicial process. They aimed to ‘lend support to their extremist Rwandan friends who launched genocide’.25

On the day of the report's release, a series of filmed interviews became available, including one with survivor Esther Mujawayo, author, sociologist, psychotherapist, and trauma specialist, who lived in Germany and worked for the Psychosocial Centre for Refugees (PSZ) in Düsseldorf.26 Mujawayo wondered why so many people were taken in:

At last. How could he [Bruguière] possibly have advanced such a thesis? How could anyone have believed this for an instant? The intellectuals, people in universities who were taken in like this?  Even if the RPF had magic powers … how could they have got into the camp? With this lie, a million people died. They killed my husband. They killed my mother, my parents in law … they killed everyone … killed the Tutsi because of a fable invented for the purpose that said ‘their’ president was killed by us [the Tutsi], and they wanted revenge.

She had always known who was responsible: ‘It was so obvious.’

But the suspicions persisted.

A panel discussion on the English-language channel on France 24 included the journalist Stephen Smith, who broke the story in Le Monde in 2004. A visiting professor of African & American Studies at Duke University, Smith said that Trévidic provided a new thrust to the investigation. Still, one should not dismiss the serial number evidence that traced missiles to Uganda. Smith argued that the Trévidic report was only part of an ‘ongoing discussion’ and was ‘another element’ to take into account. Smith also maintained his position that there was no master plan to commit genocide. ‘The special court … charged with trying genocidal planners and killers has found no one guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide,’ he claimed in the London Review of Books a year earlier.27

On 22 September 2010, the key witness for Bruguière, Abdul Ruzibiza, died in Norway, where he been granted asylum. He turned out to have been a nurse in the RPF and had pretended to have an inside track, claimed to have known all about the assassination but at the time was miles away in the north, in Ruhengeri. He eventually retracted his testimony, like some of the other witnesses involved with the Bruguière inquiry.28

In October 2006, another key witness, Emmanuel Ruzigana, had written to Bruguière to deny he ever belonged to a ‘network commando’ and say he was ignorant about the plane. He did not speak or understand the French language and had been interviewed without an interpreter.29 In an interview on 2 December, on Radio Rwanda, Ruzigana said he had wanted to go to Europe, and a friend at the embassy of France in Dar es Salaam had helped him out. As soon as he arrived at the airport in Paris, there had been men who worked in the office of Judge Bruguière waiting for him.

Only later would it emerge that a Kinyarwanda interpreter used in interviews by Judge Bruguière, a man at the heart of his investigation, was Fabien Singaye. This man had operated a European spy ring for President Habyarimana and had occupied the post of the first secretary at the Rwandan embassy in Bern, Switzerland. Some of his secret reports were discovered in the abandoned presidential villa.30 His father-in-law was Félicien Kabuga, the businessman who provided large sums to finance the genocide and who remains a fugitive to this day. Singaye was thrown out of Switzerland in August 1994 and found a haven living comfortably in France.

Central to the Bruguière report, however, was testimony from Colonel Théoneste Bagosora. On 18 May 2000, Judge Bruguière spent a day with Bagosora in the UN Detention Facility outside Arusha, the first of two visits.31 A transcript produced of the encounter showed the lack of precise questions that the French judge asked about the assassination. Furthermore, the transcript left a gaping hole in the story of the whereabouts of Bagosora on the evening of 6 April. Bagosora claimed that between 6:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m., he had been at Amahoro Stadium with the Bangladeshi contingent at a reception. A Bangladeshi officer could not recall this event. Bagosora says he then returned home at  8:20, where he found his wife in tears on the doorstep, and she told him the news.

The sound of the destruction of the president’s plane echoed all over Kigali, but Bagosora appeared to be the only person not to hear it.32 Bagosora had even been unaware that the president was going to Dar es Salaam that day. However, in his testimony at his trial, he said he was already at home when his wife received a call from the army's general staff informing her that the president’s plane had been shot down.33

Bagosora told the judge the missile attack on the aircraft was an international plot abetted by UNAMIR. He suspected the ten UN peacekeepers, Lieutenant Thierry Lotin and his men, murdered on 7 April, had a role in this plot. On the day before the assassination, they had escorted RPF personnel, taking the road that bypassed Masaka Hill, where the missiles were supposedly launched. Lotin and his men were seen at the airport at 8:30 p.m., only minutes after the missile fire. They should not have been there at all. They had stayed there until 3:00 p.m. when ordered to go into town to form an escort for the prime minister.

The RPF could not have accessed Masaka without a convincing escort, said Bagosora, and the most convincing escort was UNAMIR. The UN peacekeepers had freedom of movement. Therefore, UNAMIR escorted the RPF to the place from where the missiles were fired. ‘There was a coup d’état by the RPF with UNAMIR as an accomplice, and with a part of the political opposition, which was pro-RPF, I tell you,’ Bagosora said.

The most senior French officer in Camp Kanombe, Major Grégoire de Saint-Quentin, was an adviser to Major Aloys Ntabakuze, head of the para-commando battalion at Kanombe. The French officer was a tall and imposing figure who eventually commanded a brigade with the French army in Senegal and later in 2013, commander of French forces in Mali. He is today head of special operations. In April 1994, he was at his home in the Kanombe military camp when the missiles were fired at the presidential jet. His garden backed onto that of the camp commander, Félicien Muberuka, and he could see the comings and goings on the commander’s driveway.34 The three large windows in his living room overlooked the flight path, while the presidential villa was a little more than 350 meters away. Saint-Quentin recalled that the two missiles' launch seemed so close to him he thought the camp was under attack.

In a house nearby, a young girl thought the missile fire sounded like an American movie. She was sixteen and spent the rest of that night awake, sheltering with her mother and brothers in the front room, just twelve meters from the road. She, too, thought the missile fire signified the camp was under attack, but, strangely, there was no further activity. Normally there were tall and effective streetlights left on all night, and twenty-four-hour patrols, soldiers on foot and in vehicles, each group assigned individual zones to patrol. This evening, there was no activity, no trucks, no patrols, and no sounds of soldiers. At dawn, they crept out and were told that all the families were leaving the camp, and the transport was already arranged.

Saint-Quentin had wanted to retrieve the jet’s black box and remembered two French officers in helmets who carried torches and searched the smoldering wreckage. The bodies of the casualties were laid out in a reception room in the presidential villa. Still, they were removed the next morning in an army truck to a cold store at Kanombe Hospital, where other bodies were piling up in the morgue.35

Saint-Quentin, in his interview with the judge, told Bruguière that the Rwandan forces did not have surface-to-air missiles.36 Perhaps he was unaware of them. Human Rights Watch believed that when the Rwandan army retreated, it took fifty SA-7 missiles and fifteen Mistral missiles into exile.37 An army would not keep such an arsenal if it did not know how to use it. While France officially denied giving French-made Mistral missiles to Rwanda, this did not mean the Rwandan army did not have any.

A document found in UNAMIR archives and prepared by senior officers contained a list of the military hardware in possession of the Rwandan government army, compiled by the peace agreement, a list dated 6 April 1994.38 The list included fifteen French-made Mistral missiles and an ‘unknown quantity of SA-7 missiles. The force commander of UNAMIR, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, confirmed the list as genuine and compiled with the greatest difficulty from sources within the military. This information gathered by his mandate. The missiles, fired at the Kanombe military camp plane, had effectively destroyed any hope of his resupply by air during the genocide. ‘They had shot down one plane and could shoot down another,’ Dallaire said. The peacekeepers were unable to guarantee Kigali Airport's safety, and no company was found willing to insure an aircraft that the UN had on standby.

In a declassified CIA report called ‘Rwanda: Security Conditions at Kigali Airport – Capabilities and Intentions,’ dated 13 July 1994, there is information that Kigali’s international airport was less dangerous once the RPF had driven out the troops of the Interim Government. ‘Hutu regime troops, most likely including elements of the  Presidential Guard, were almost certainly responsible for downing the airplane of the late President Habyarimana as it was landing at Kigali.’ When the fighting broke out, the Hutu regime had some thirty-five pieces of air defense artillery, reported a classified informant, as well as the fifteen Mistral missiles.

Whole sections of this fascinating eleven-page CIA cable remain classified, and the US was clearly well informed.39 The carefully planned operation to escort all the US citizens from the country on 9 April ensured they went by road. From Paris, information continued to arrive from the ambassador, Pamela Harriman, who told Washington at the end of April 1994 that her informant said the accusations of RPF involvement in the assassination were not credible since the site from which the attack took place was near the president’s residence and was secured by forces loyal to Habyarimana.

The death of the president was a signal for a preplanned ethnic massacre to begin. The RPF offensive towards Kigali began only after the massacres of Tutsi had started.

The signals intelligence acquired by the US in the crucial first days was said to have included intercepted telephone calls from extremist officers in Kigali to counterparts in Gisenyi in the north, as well as communications captured between politicians and militia and captured information about the downing of the presidential jet. Likely, the tracking and recording of the entirety of the local and regional radio traffic were conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). In the Maryland headquarters, people fluent in Kinyarwanda were known to have worked.

The information gathered contained invaluable evidence of the activities of the génocidaires as they seized power. The US satellite imagery was such that burning tires and bodies were visible at the roadblocks.

Despite the wealth of material that undermined the Bruguière conclusion, some people remained unconvinced and paid no heed to the retraction of the testimony of the witnesses upon whom the judge had relied. Ignoring the scientific evidence, a school of thought persisted that pronounced the RPF guilty of the president's assassination. As a result, there had been no coup d’état.

In a book published in 2010 that bolstered the earlier Bruguière conclusion of RPF guilt, a Parisian academic, André Guichaoua of the Pantheon-Sorbonne University, dismissed the murder of the political opposition on Thursday, 7 April, as evidence of a coup and called it a ‘recalibrated political transition,’ simply part of ‘political infighting.’ In this theory, the RPF downed the jet and deliberately sacrificed the  Tutsi population. No plan had existed to exterminate Tutsi. Not until 12 April, and the new Interim Government had been installed, was a genocide policy adopted and a genocide begun. His theory took no account of the targeted killing of Tutsi at the roadblocks that began on Thursday, 7 April, nor the first large-scale massacres of Tutsi in Kigali – one in the church grounds in Gikondo in the morning on Saturday, 9 April, to which UN military observers were eyewitnesses. Another massacre of Tutsi families who had sheltered at the École Technique Officielle (ETO) on Monday, 11 April, saw an estimated 2,000 people killed.

These were early examples of the massacre of large numbers of people that would now recur in a pattern; Rwandan soldiers and gendarmes sealed exits where Tutsi people sought shelter and then ushered in the Interahamwe to carry out the killing, thereby economizing on bullets. It was in Gikondo, on the afternoon of Saturday, 9 April, the chief delegate of the ICRC, Philippe Gaillard, recognized that genocide of the Tutsi was by now underway.

In his book published four years after the Bruguière report, Guichaoua expressed his belief that the genocide had been a desperate reaction by the most extremist faction in the face of a military advance by the RPF. Guichaoua categorized the killings as a crime against humanity committed by a government against a part of its population. Guichaoua wrote the preface for the book by Abdul Ruzibiza, the star witness used by Judge Bruguière, who had first introduced the witness to the judge and had persuaded Ruzibiza to write a book.40

Another member of this school of thought is the acknowledged expert René Lemarchand, a French-American political scientist known for his work on Rwanda and Burundi and professor emeritus at the University of Florida. Lemarchand insisted the RPF downed the plane. He disparaged the Mutsinzi report and noted in 2018 that ‘all facts pointing to Kagame’s responsibility were conveniently ignored.’ He failed to specify which particular facts he meant. ‘The scantiness of the evidence notwithstanding, the notion of a criminal plot concocted by Hutu extremists is still the standard explanation advanced,’ he wrote. Lemarchand believed it a subject fit for debate as people took up several ‘contradictory positions’.41

Reyntjens, emeritus professor of law and politics at the University of Antwerp, remained an advocate for the Bruguière report and wrote about the existence of a ‘whole heap of indications’ that showed the RPF was responsible for the assassination. In an account of events published in 2017, Reyntjens omitted any mention of scientific reports about how missiles came from the Kanombe military camp, which was inaccessible to the RPF. Reyntjens seemed unaware of the existence of witnesses in Kanombe camp that night. Reyntjens did not believe in genocide planning and said the killing happened because of the aggression of the regime's enemies that set off a chain reaction that led to it. The RPF had a historical and political responsibility in the extermination of the Tutsi.42

The story about Masaka Hill lingered on, the scientific and direct eyewitness testimony continually ignored. In 2017, in a book by Helen C. Epstein, Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda, and the War on Terror, the author accused President Paul Kagame of the assassination, repeating the claim in an extract from the book in the Guardian.43 The missiles came from Masaka Hill, she wrote, and the weapons used were Russian-made SAM-16s because ‘two SA-16 single-use launchers’ were found near the launch site. She relied on the report by French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière. She pointed out that the serial numbers on the Masaka launchers came from a consignment shipped from Russia to Uganda. Her source was Filip Reyntjens, who told Epstein the weapons were Russian-made SAM-16s. He said that ‘two SA-16 single-use launchers’ were found near Masaka Hill, a place more ‘accessible’ to the rebel fighters of Kagame’s RPF than the Kanombe military camp. What Reyntjens may not have told her was that the information about launchers at Masaka Hill and their serial numbers originated with the prime suspect, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a convicted génocidaire.

With little fanfare, on 24 December 2018, French magistrates in Paris dropped the case brought against the nine senior RPF leaders suspected of the assassination of President Habyarimana and for whom there had been international arrest warrants issued. The twenty-year investigation had ensured the real culprits escaped scrutiny.


The 11 January 1994 cable

An 11 January 1994 cable was difficult to ignore. As a piece of material evidence in court, it caused severe problems for defense lawyers. It was, perhaps, the most famous fax in UN history. Sent from Kigali to the UN Secretariat in New York by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, it gave details of preparations then underway to register all Tutsi families in Kigali with a view to their extermination.

The information it contained came from an informer, a coordinator with the Interahamwe militia, who claimed intimate knowledge of the Hutu Power movement's activities. He said lists of Tutsi were being compiled in each sector (termed "secteur" administrative subdivision), going from house to house, noting every family member. Following this intelligence gathering, every secteur was provided with a militia of forty operatives trained to kill at speed. Each group had been secretly trained in weapons, explosives, close combat, and tactics. Within twenty minutes of receiving the order to kill, the militia in each secteur could immediately murder 1,000 people. There were hidden stockpiles of weapons all over the city.

The informer warned that President Juvénal Habyarimana had lost control over his old party, the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND). Furthermore, the informer told of plans to goad the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to scupper the peace agreement and restart the civil war. In violent, coordinated, and preplanned demonstrations, the Interahamwe would provoke Belgian peacekeepers and kill some of them to guarantee the contingent's withdrawal, the backbone of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).

The full text of the famous two-page 11 January fax to UN headquarters emerged in its entirety a few weeks later and received international press coverage to prove the extent of the failure over Rwanda. In later years the fax was part of the prosecution in the trials of the génocidaires at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), disproving the many claims from defense lawyers that the slaughter had been spontaneous.

For this reason, the defense lawyers tried to turn the court's attention away from the information contained in the fax to the informer himself. They launched a sustained attack on his reputation, and one of the defense lawyers at the ICTR was the Canadian Christopher Black. In 2002, he had defended the former commander of the national gendarmerie, Major-General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who in April 1994 was in charge of maintaining public order and who was accused of genocide in the trial known as Military Two. In the courtroom, Black was determined to nullify the fax and told the trial chamber that Jean-Pierre was a double agent who worked for the RPF and had set out to smear President Juvénal Habyarimana.

As New Yorker reporter Philip Gourevitch dubbed it in 1998, the Dallaire genocide fax was probably doctored a year after Rwanda's mass killings ended. In a chapter devoted to the fax in Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson argue two paragraphs were added to a cable Dallaire sent to Canadian General Maurice Baril at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York about a weapons cache and protecting an informant (Dallaire never personally met the informant). The added paragraphs said the informant was asked to compile a Tutsi list for possible extermination in Kigali and mentioned a plan to assassinate select political leaders and Belgian peacekeepers.

At the ICTR, former Cameroon foreign minister and overall head of the UN mission in Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, denied seeing this information. There’s no evidence Dallaire warned the Belgians of a plan to attack them, which later transpired. Finally, a response to the cable from UN headquarters the next day ignores the (probably) added paragraphs. Herman and Peterson make a compelling case that a doctored version of the initial cable was placed in the UN file on November 27, 1995, by British Colonel Richard M. Connaughton as part of a Kigali-London-Washington effort to prove the existence of a plan by the Hutu government to exterminate Tutsi.

Even if the final two paragraphs were in the original version, the information's credibility would be suspect. Informant “Jean-Pierre” was not a highly placed official in the defeated Hutu government, reports Robin Philpott in Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction. Instead, “Jean-Pierre” was a driver for the MRDN political party who later died fighting with the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Incredibly, the “genocide fax” is the primary source of any documentary record demonstrating the UN foreknowledge of a Hutu “conspiracy” to exterminate Tutsi, a charge even the victor’s justice at the ICTR failed to convict anyone of. According to Herman and Peterson, “when finding all four defendants not guilty of the ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ charge, the [ICTR] trial chamber also dismissed the evidence provided by ‘informant Jean-Pierre’ due to ‘lingering questions concerning [his] reliability.’”

Tellingly, Dallaire didn’t even initially adhere to the “conspiracy to commit genocide” version of the Rwandan tragedy. Just after leaving his post as UNAMIR force commander, Dallaire replied to September 14, 1994, Radio Canada Le Point question, saying, “the plan was more political. The aim was to eliminate the coalition of moderates. … I think that the excesses that we saw were beyond people’s ability to plan and organize. There was a process to destroy the political elements in the moderate camp. There were a breakdown and hysteria absolutely. … But nobody could have foreseen or planned the magnitude of the destruction we saw.”

Doctoring fax to make it appear the UN had foreknowledge of a plot to exterminate Tutsi may sound outlandish. Still, it’s more believable than many other elements of the dominant narrative of the Rwandan genocide. For instance, the day after their editorial, the Star published a story titled “25 years after the genocide, Rwanda rebuilds,” which included a photo of President Paul Kagame leading a walk to commemorate the mass killings. But, Kagame is the individual most responsible for unleashing the hundred days of genocidal violence by downing a plane carrying two Hutu presidents and much of the Rwandan military high command.

The Toronto Star published a story titled “Did Rwanda’s Paul Kagame trigger the genocide of his own people?” For its part, the Globe and Mail have published a series of front-page reports in recent years confirming Kagame’s responsibility for blowing up the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, which triggered mass killings in April 1994. In an October story titled “New information supports claims, Kagame forces were involved in an assassination that sparked Rwandan genocide,” the Globe all but confirmed that the surface-to-air missiles used to assassinate the Rwandan and Burundian Hutu presidents on April 6, 1994, came from Uganda, which backed the RPF’s bid to conquer its smaller neighbor. (A few thousand exiled Tutsi Ugandan troops, including the deputy minister of defense, “deserted” to invade Rwanda in 1990.) These revelations strengthen the case of those who argue that responsibility for the mass killings in spring 1994 largely rests with the Ugandan/RPF aggressors and their US/British/Canadian backers.

By presenting the individual most culpable for the mass killings at the head of the commemoration for said violence, the Star is flipping the facts on their head. The same might be said for their depiction of the Canadian general. At the end of their chapter tracing the history of the “genocide fax,” Herman and Peterson write, “if all of this is true,” then “we would suggest that Dallaire should be regarded as a war criminal for positively facilitating the actual mass killings of April-July, rather than taken as a hero for giving allegedly disregarded warnings that might have stopped them.”

Also, in US documents that have been declassified, there are numerous redactions. A scandal exists in France where successive governments have prevented access for historians and journalists to crucial military and political archives, including those of President François Mitterrand and the officials who worked in his unaccountable Africa Unit in the Élysée Palace.

As we detailed in our initial 2003-4 case study, France has long faced charges that supported the Hutu leadership before and even during the massacres. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has called French soldiers “actors” in the genocide — a charge denied by the former French prime minister, Édouard Balladur, as “a self-interested lie.” But on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron of France ordered a two-year government study of France’s role in the Rwandan genocide.

French judges have heard from a new witness who claims to have seen missiles allegedly used to kill former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death sparked genocide in 1994, a source close to the case told AFP on Monday.

The witness says he saw two surface-to-air missiles at the headquarters of the Tutsi militia headed by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, which were later used to take down Habyarimana's plane.

A consequence of excessive government secrecy is the opportunity it afforded the génocidaires. An information vacuum gave them free rein to spread lies and disinformation to deny their crime. They deceived the Western press, promoting lies faster than the facts could debunk them.

Thus, in September 2016, the chief propagandist of Hutu Power, Ferdinand Nahimana, walked free from prison, having served twenty years and six months in international custody.44 It was thirteen years since his conviction to a life term imposed in a courtroom at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where he was found guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (persecution) and crimes against humanity (extermination).45

For the survivors of the genocide of the Tutsi, his release was a devastating development. The decision betrayed a lack of understanding of the crime of genocide and failed to acknowledge its magnitude. Nahimana continued to claim his innocence. Given the Hutu Power propaganda produced by Nahimana and his fellow génocidaires, these prisoners continued to promote the same poisonous and racist ideology that motivated their criminal acts in 1994. To have released Nahimana at a time when genocide denial was more entrenched than ever was irresponsible. The decision showed contempt for the survivors and their continued suffering.

The Rwandan minister of justice, Johnston Busingye, called for the removal of the US judge responsible, Theodor Meron. In coming to his decision, Meron had held no hearings, took no account of the survivors' views, and had given no say to the government of Rwanda. His decision was secret and unaccountable. No appeal was possible. A brief official explanation came in the form of a short, redacted report that provided necessary background information.46 It included glowing testimonials from prison wardens who described Nahimana’s impeccable conduct. In his prison career, Nahimana had lived ‘in perfect harmony with fellow inmates and the prison administration. He was polite, disciplined, and would quickly reintegrate into society as someone ‘humble and courteous.

Nahimana served his sentence in a community with his colleagues, a group of Rwandan génocidaires who lived together in a purpose-built compound within the high-security Koulikoro prison, some thirty-five miles (fifty-seven kilometers) from Bamako, the capital of Mali.47 The special compound, constructed at United Nations expense, was segregated from the misery found in the rest of the prison. Within yards of this ‘international wing,’ there were unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, a lack of medical care, and not all the prisoners had access to potable water. The génocidaires, on the other hand, had separate cells, showers, a gym, a well-stocked library, a dining room, and a church.

The UN, an organization, intended by its founders to uphold human rights, required that the Rwandan génocidaires live in conditions that met the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs). Initially adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1955, they were given final approval by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1957.48 Conditions had to comply with the Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, approved by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, as well as the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, affirmed by UN General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990. These requirements are non-binding on UN member states. To ensure the proper application of these international standards, the particular compound in the Koulikoro prison received visits from global humanitarian groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In this special community, according to the wardens, Nahimana had a crucial role. ‘It was quite an achievement among a group of intellectuals in which each member is intent on promoting his ideas.’ They praised his character and personality. A former warden noted the contribution of Nahimana to the smooth running of the unit: he helped to ‘restrain and keep his compatriots in check.’ Even the Ministry of Justice in Mali weighed in with a letter to support his early release, telling Judge Meron that between 2009 and 2013, Nahimana was the ‘Rwandan group’ representative, helping his fellow inmates ‘resolve many issues.’

A psychosocial report described his behavior as exemplary. He was ‘always willing to listen to his co-detainees.’49 Furthermore, Nahimana submitted his petition for release, written by three lawyers. They stressed his family ties, which he managed to maintain, and that he hoped to ‘work for peace and reconciliation in Rwanda. However, it was not explained by the lawyers how this might be achieved.50 Meron wrote in his report that the prisoner showed ‘some signs of rehabilitation.’ The judge seemed not to care that Nahimana continued to deny his responsibility in ‘these crimes.’ While his lawyers maintained that their client did not question or minimize ‘the genocide,’ or his ‘profound regret’ for the ‘crimes committed in Rwanda,’ what he did not accept was a role in the broadcasts' criminal nature RTLM. Nahimana had not once offered to help the office of the ICTR prosecutor. This was something Meron regarded as a ‘neutral factor.’

It remains unclear whether the judge critically assessed the information he received about Nahimana. His short report contained no detail at all about how the prisoner was ‘rehabilitated.’ Afterward, there were doubts expressed about the capacity of the prison authorities in Mali to develop rehabilitation programs for these Rwandan prisoners, particularly given the language and cultural differences.51

In their special compound, the génocidaires kept in touch with world events, received frequent visitors, and were interviewed by journalists and academics. They received $2 a day to buy newspapers, and payment was provided for telephone calls. They posed no problems for the prison authorities. They spent their time working on their campaign of denial, and the facilities provided for them helped them write books and communicate with publishers who were willing to produce their work. The prison warders noted how educated these prisoners were and how they kept to themselves and worked on their ‘political activities’. A member of the Koulikoro prison management gave a radio interview in which he explained that these prisoners demanded ‘justice for all victims without exception,’ whether Tutsi or Hutu.52

From the special compound in Mali and another prison in Benin, the génocidaires continued to protest their innocence, influence newcomers to the subject, find new and receptive audiences, and seek out conspiracy theorists and gullible journalists and academics. Their written work repeated the familiar stories of genocide denial. How more Hutu people died than Tutsi, how the killing was self-defense, the deaths not intentional, there was no planning and no central direction, and the Hutu were the real victims. From this particular compound, the chief propagandist, Ferdinand Nahimana, had two books on sale on Amazon (in France), and the author described himself as a political prisoner.53 In their community, the génocidaires spent time analyzing numerous ICTR and UN documents and wrote appeals to the authorities. Only the truth could save the people of Rwanda, wrote Nahimana.54

The supporters of their campaign of denial praised the Mali prison authorities for not succumbing to ‘the demonization of Rwandan Hutus’ that had turned them into monsters in Western public opinion. These men deserved our pity. They had been uprooted from the lush green lands of home to a hot, dry, and dusty Mali. Furthermore, Rwanda was a Christian and Mali Muslim. The Montreal journalist and publisher Robin Philpot wrote: ‘For prisoners convinced of their innocence, the worse problem is the distance from their families.’ Philpot wrote about ‘the colonial nature of these new forms of UN-sanctioned penal colonies.’ How could they make their cases known and hope to reopen them? This was nothing less than banishment, and these prisoners were condemned to a long slow death. Philpot reported complaints from the génocidaires that they ‘had been made to disappear from the news.’55

This was not strictly true. An invaluable glimpse inside Mali's special compound, where the génocidaires lived, came in filmed footage broadcast on ITV news in the UK on 21 July 2015. It was billed as a world scoop and was an interview with Jean Kambanda, the world’s first head of government to plead guilty to the crime of genocide. The Africa correspondent for ITV, John Ray, had gained access to a top security prison, he said, that housed the men behind Africa’s ‘final solution.’

The on-camera interview with Kambanda, economist and banker, the prime minister of the Interim Government that oversaw the extermination program of the Tutsi, took place in the library. Kambanda was the world’s highest-ranking political leader held to account for the crime of genocide, and he was serving a life term, but he had later retracted his plea. In the television footage, Kambanda walked through gardens with a briefcase and talked and laughed with the British journalist. He appeared portly, having gained weight since the last day of the trial in September 1998. He began the interview in faltering English, ‘I cannot express any regrets for something I have not done. Someone else did it.’ The truth was still in dispute, the journalist said at the end. Kambanda admitted to Ray that he had distributed weapons, but only so people could protect themselves. His conscience was clear. He had been a ‘puppet’ and felt no sense of guilt. ‘We are fighting to be free,’ Kambanda told Ray.

After the announcement of the release of Ferdinand Nahimana, Justice Navi Pillay, the South African judge who presided in the media trial at the ICTR, said no one had consulted her about the early release of Nahimana, and, as the presiding judge in the trial, she thought this would have been appropriate. Pillay expressed concern at the lack of any post-release conditions imposed on Nahimana and wondered why no realistic possibility existed to monitor him, supervise his activities, or determine whether his racist propagandizing continued. Meron had simply granted ‘an irreversible and unconditional form of release, an unconditional reduction in the sentence’ that had resulted in complete freedom. The decision threatened the credibility of international justice, Pillay believed.

That Meron had decided the fate of Nahimana after having earlier played a role in reducing his sentence on appeal was of concern. On 28 November 2007, the Appeals Chamber had reduced Nahimana’s life sentence to thirty years. Meron had written a dissenting view in the appeal judgment, wanting to reduce further the thirty-year sentence agreed upon by the two other appeal judges. He thought the punishment of thirty years too harsh. In his dissenting view, Meron was scathing the media trial and pointed to the ‘sheer number of errors’ in the trial judgment. He called for a new trial because ‘mere hate speech was not the basis for a criminal conviction.56 Meron believed that the liability connected to hate speech was illegitimate in light of freedom of expression, and this was explicitly grounded in the free speech guarantee of the US First Amendment.57

I believe that the only conviction against him that can stand is for direct and public incitement to commit genocide under Article 6(3) and based on specific post-6 April broadcasts. Despite the severity of this crime, Nahimana did not personally kill anyone and did not personally make statements that constituted incitement. In light of these facts, I believe that the sentence imposed is too harsh, both about Nahimana’s culpability and the sentences meted out by the Appeals Chamber to Barayagwiza Ngeze (co-accused), who committed graver crimes. Therefore, I dissent from Nahimana’s sentence.

Fellow ICTR judges were not alone in their concerns at these developments. Professor Gregory S. Gordon, professor of law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Faculty of Law, worked on the media trial from its beginnings and was an expert on atrocity speech in the circumstances of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi. Gordon, who had helped gather prosecution evidence, believed that the media trial was so significant that it had helped define the distinction between hate speech and speech used to incite genocide from a historical perspective.

Gordon published Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition in 2017. In an interview in London that year, he explained the crucial role of Ferdinand Nahimana and claimed that, without him, the hate radio RTLM would not have existed. The connection between hate speech and atrocity in Rwanda was so secure that the media trial ‘served as a virtual laboratory for the development of atrocity speech law.’58 Ideology and propaganda were integral to the crime of genocide, and the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi of Rwanda showed how mass media was a causal factor in mass atrocities.

A direct challenge to the views of Meron on free speech came in a foreword to Gordon’s book, written by a Nuremberg prosecutor, Benjamin B. Ferencz. Ferencz believed a failure to criminalize hate speech served only to encourage fanatics, for example, those responsible for the genocide of the Tutsi. He added: ‘The first amendment to the US Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech was never intended to justify the violation of fundamental human rights designed to protect everyone.’ Hatred generated by vicious propagandists such as Julius Streicher was one of the main reasons the Nazi crimes could be committed.

Curbing hate speech was a way to prevent genocide, for it was the case that arousing public fears could incite it. ‘We have still not recognized that you cannot kill an ingrained ideology with a gun,’ wrote Ferencz. Gordon recalled a dearth of jurisprudence to guide them from the start of the media trial. As the tribunal geared up in 1996, on one set of shelves in an almost empty library was a complete set of the transcripts of the trials at Nuremberg.59

Judge Theodor Meron had never sat through a genocide trial. He served only on the Appeals Chamber and so did not experience the agonizing testimony in the trials. He did not participate in the debates among the judges about the appropriate length of sentences imposed on the génocidaires for their unspeakable crimes. In her interview, Judge Navi Pillay carefully explained why the judges had decided to impose life sentences in the courtrooms of the ICTR, something the trial judges had discussed at length and taken seriously. The scale and magnitude of the crime were never in doubt from the very first trial, Pillay explained, nor its brutality.

Pillay was one of three judges in the world’s first genocide trial held at the ICTR to hear the case of Jean-Paul Akayesu, a middle-ranking official in local government, a bourgmestre (mayor), a teacher, and schools inspector. Found guilty of nine counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity – these included extermination, murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts – his life term was confirmed on appeal.

The trial of Akayesu made legal history in another way. The crime of rape was not initially in the indictment. Still, in the course of the trial, and after questioning from Pillay, the testimony from prosecution witnesses revealed the level of sexual crimes in the genocide. Without Pillay, the courts might never have addressed this aspect of the genocide, and she went on to ensure groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as a crime of genocide. It was a significant milestone and determined that sexual violence was an integral part of the process of destruction: the Akayesu judgment noted, ‘Rapes resulted in physical and psychological destruction of Tutsi women, their families, and their communities.’60

The collection of data to determine instances of rape and sexual violence had been fraught with problems. Today, an accurate number cannot be set. Most experts believe it to be in the region of 250,000 rapes and sexual assaults.61 The sexual violence in Rwanda included sexual slavery, forced incest, deliberate HIV transmission, forced impregnation, and genital mutilation.62 The sexual attacks intended to humiliate, demoralize, and enslave. The evidence in the Akayesu trial had shown Tutsi women targeted for sexual violence, which had contributed to the destruction of the Tutsi group as a whole. In the media trial in 2003 over which Navi Pillay presided, there was expert and witness testimony that confirmed Hutu Power propagandists had targeted Tutsi women, the targeting woven into the planning of the genocide in 1994.

In the light of all this evidence and the magnitude of the crimes, the imposition of life sentences was appropriate, said Pillay. This was widely accepted by ICTR judges who expected the génocidaires to serve their sentences in full. Only those who confessed and cooperated with the prosecutor were eligible for early release. The tribunal attached significant value to ‘voluntary, substantial, and long-term cooperation with the prosecutor.’

When appointed president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in 2012, known as the Mechanism, Meron had assumed responsibility for all international prisoners' supervision. Meron was now in charge of making new rules and judgments upon these cases. A Polish-born US citizen and an international lawyer with a stellar career, Meron was a French Légion d’Honneur and a Shakespeare scholar. The first president of the Mechanism, Meron, served from its creation in 2012 until January 2019.

The Security Council established the Mechanism to complete two international criminal tribunals' work when they closed – the ICTR and its forerunner, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).63 A part of the Mechanism mandate was to supervise those convicted of grave violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Meron had served on the Appeals Chamber used by both the ICTY and the ICTR. He was widely considered one of the world’s most distinguished specialists in international human rights law and international penal law; his numerous books and articles contributing to the advance and development of the discipline, and he advised the US government and State Department. In his job as president of the Mechanism, Meron maintained high-level contacts with the governments of UN member states to facilitate and improve cooperation with the Mechanism: he was required to make annual reports to the General Assembly and biannual reports to the Security Council.64

With Meron as president of the Mechanism, the prospects of the imprisoned Rwandan génocidaires improved considerably. Meron took advantage of his powers as president to alter the internal procedures already in place. He used a device known as ‘practice directions’ to adopt new rules for the method for determining applications for pardon, commutation of sentence, and early release of persons convicted by the ICTR, the ICTY, or the Mechanism (PDER). Meron, the only full-time judge on the Mechanism, ensured his new rules by a plenary of judges via remote communication in June 2012.

His changes had significant results.65 Meron was no longer required to make public his decisions on early release and now consider humanitarian and health issues. He was no longer needed to consult survivors nor to ask the original trial judges for an opinion. However, when the Security Council created the ICTR, the enabling resolution mandated that there must be consultation with trial judges in early-release cases.66 This was also a requirement written into the statute of the ICTR.67 Although the enactment of the Mechanism did not refer to consultation with trial judges, its rules and practice specified that the president should consult with any judges of the sentencing chamber, but only those who continued to serve as judges on the Mechanism.68 This provision disappeared, and by 2016, when the time came to release Ferdinand Nahimana, Judge Meron was no longer required to consult any judges at all. One legal scholar noted drily, ‘Perhaps release is considered to be an administrative or executive task at the MICT (Mechanism), but this should not preclude judicial review of decisions.’69 Another factor that significantly improved the prospects of the génocidaires was the decision made by Judge Meron to apply the same rules to the Rwandan prisoners as those that governed the imprisonment of those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. There was a need for ‘equality among international prisoners, irrespective of the court that sentenced them.’70 At the ICTY, convicted prisoners, were eligible for release after they had served two-thirds of their sentences. Henceforth, the two-thirds eligibility rule applied to the entire prisoner population over which he, as president of the Mechanism, supervised. While conceding, this could ‘constitute a benefit for the Rwandan prisoners,’ he wrote, ‘this alone could not justify discrimination between the groups of convicted persons under the jurisdiction of the Mechanism.’

When in October 1994, informal negotiations had taken place in the Security Council to discuss the establishment of a criminal tribunal, the Rwandan ambassador who was representing the new government established in Kigali wanted those convicted by the tribunal to serve their sentences in Rwanda. He sought a voice for the Rwandan government on any pardon or commutation of sentence and warned that the members of the former Hutu Power government might ‘be sent to serve their time in France and would be able to wangle their way out of jail early.’71

It did not turn out this way. Only in June 2018, and facing criticism for the first time in his six years as president of the Mechanism, did Judge Theodor Meron consult the Rwandan government about the next three proposed early releases. Rwanda’s justice minister, Johnston Busingye, wrote directly to Meron to object in the strongest terms to any further statements. The severity and gravity of the crimes should be sufficient to deny the prisoners’ applications.72 ‘Nothing about these people has changed,’ he said. ‘They have shown no remorse, not even acknowledgment of their crimes.’ There were objections elsewhere, and Toby Cadman, the co-founder of a human rights organization in London, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, thought that early release of anyone convicted of genocide served only to undermine the process of international law.73

One of the three prisoners under consideration was journalist Hassan Ngeze, the editor of Kangura, convicted in the media trial at the ICTR of genocide and public incitement to commit genocide. Like Ferdinand Nahimana in the same trial, the Appeals Chamber had reduced Ngeze’s life sentence to thirty years. One of the media trial lawyers, the prosecutor Simone Monasebian, on hearing of the possibility of Ngeze’s release, wrote to Meron. She explained that Kangura and radio RTLM had fuelled the genocide, and both had been more potent and dangerous than bullets or machetes. The génocidaires were unrepentant violent extremists, she told him.

The survivors’ organization Ibuka announced that Meron was the ‘epitome of all things wrong following the aftermath of the 1994 genocide’. The organization had repeatedly called for an investigation of every controversial decision taken by Meron, either reduction in sentence or early release. Any decision that served to benefit genocide perpetrators also helped their campaign of denial. Every decision that diminished the status of the crime of genocide needed investigation.74

There were several cases worth consideration. Meron was the presiding judge of five justices on the appeal that reduced the life sentences of Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, both originally sentenced to life in prison genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The penalty of Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, the northern commander, former head of army intelligence, reduced to fifteen years, saw him freed with time served taken into account. In November 2009, Meron was the presiding judge in the appeals chamber decision to acquit Protais Zigiranyirazo; he was the notorious brother of Agathe Kanziga, President's wife Habyarimana, and convicted of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. Judge Meron said that the original trial erred in its handling of evidence. In 2013, Meron presided over the appeal that acquitted and released Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, initially sentenced to thirty years for genocide, both ministers in the Interim Government.

Meron also granted the early release of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Emmanuel Rukundo, who served fifteen years of a twenty-three-year sentence, convicted in February for genocide, murder, and extermination as crimes against humanity. Meron was already familiar with the Rukundo case when he granted him early release. When a member of the Appeals Chamber, he was one of five appeal judges who, in October 2010, had reduced Rukundo’s sentence from twenty-five to twenty-three years. The appeal reversed his genocide conviction and blamed the original trial for not having proved genocidal intent in the mental harm he had inflicted with his sexual assault on a twenty-one-year-old woman.

Some tried to find reasons for Meron’s leniency towards the génocidaires. A few months after the release of Nahimana, in January 2018, Gregory Gordon gave a paper, ‘On the Early Release of the “Rwandan Goebbels”: American Free Speech Exceptionalism and the Ghost of the Nuremberg-Tokyo Commutations.’ In the article, Gordon questioned whether the decision-making of Meron was an example of exactly how American power influences the operations of international criminal justice. Gordon thought similarities existed with other occasions when US political interests affected the treatment of war criminals. In the early 1950s, US High Commissioner for Germany John J. McCloy pardoned or commuted the sentences of numerous high-level Nazi defendants convicted at Nuremberg. That same year, General Douglas MacArthur began releasing high-level Japanese war criminals sentenced by Nuremberg’s sister Tokyo Tribunal. The shifting Cold War policies favored rapprochement with the Germans and Japanese.

Others considered the possibility of US influence. They recalled the controversy that surrounded Meron’s decisions in ICTY cases. In 2013, in a leaked confidential letter, a judge at the ICTY, Frederik Harhoff, had complained that Meron had exerted ‘persistent and intense’ pressure on his fellow judges to allow Serb and Croat commanders, prisoners convicted at the Yugoslavia war crimes court, to go free. Meron had wanted increased proof of ‘specific direction’ by an accused military or senior political leader, a higher burden of evidence for those in command.

On that occasion, there had been complaints from international lawyers and human rights groups. Some judges said in private that the rulings had abruptly rewritten legal standards and would now serve to protect military commanders. However, the changes Meron made were to quell fears from the US government, in particular, that it could face legal action against senior leaders for war crimes. Still, others speculated that this was a question of economics. The US, retreating into isolationism, did not want to continue sending money to the UN to pay its share for international prisoners' upkeep.75

The harshest criticism came from the UN Security Council in an address by the Rwandan ambassador, Valentine Rugwabiza. On 6 June 2018, she spoke of the Mechanism's failing credibility, condemning its secret procedures and lack of accountability. The Council was due to discuss an application by Judge Meron to renew his two-year contract as president.

Ambassador Rugwabiza told the Council that since its establishment in 2012 under the personal direction of Meron as president, the Mechanism had released more than ten masterminds of the genocide before the end of their sentences.76 Their release was unconditional. There was no way to ensure they would not re-engage in criminal activities. This would be the legacy of the Mechanism and its current president. In a grave admonishment, the ambassador told the Council that allowing a secret and unaccountable process to develop to provide these early releases had strengthened the génocidaires in their desire to minimize and diminish the crime. She warned that some of the released génocidaires had regrouped and once again were propagating their genocide ideology. These were dangerous and unrepentant individuals who dismissed the factual basis of their criminal conspiracy entirely. Allowing them their freedom, the Mechanism had enabled an ongoing campaign of denial.77

Rugwabiza was not against the principle of early release but believed the purpose of incarceration was to rehabilitate individuals. She said, ‘There was no country on earth that had commuted more sentences, given early release to more convicts of genocide, than Rwanda.’ In Rwanda, the trials of more than a million perpetrators over nearly a decade had taken place in Gacaca courts. In Rwanda, early releases came only after confession and contrition. In these local courts, the remorse is shown required proof through action, and the accused sometimes revealed the location of buried bodies. These same rules must apply to high-profile international prisoners, she said. To be eligible for early release, a prisoner should provide a public acknowledgment of guilt, public support for peace projects, and public apology to victims or victim restitution. A lack of consideration of the gravity of the crime and a failure to consider the absence of remorse was to blame for these early releases. While the Mechanism released génocidaires, it had failed in its other main task. It had not apprehended or prosecuted a single genocide fugitive, which was also part of its mandate from the Council.

That afternoon the Council held a secret and informal meeting to discuss the matter.78 The Council membership was divided over the issue, and a compromise decision allowed the eighty-seven-year-old judge six further months in office. In the course of those six months, Meron approved the early release of one more unrepentant génocidaire, a former military officer, Aloys Simba, thereby ignoring the strongest objections from the government of Rwanda. Simba had been convicted at the ICTR for genocide and extermination, arrested while hiding out in Senegal in November 2001. Four years later, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He walked free on 19 January 2019, having served eighteen years in international custody.

And so, when international visitors go to Murambi, one of six national genocide memorial sites, they may not realize how their governments connived in the early release of a man who on 21 April 1994 handed out weapons to militia surrounding the technical college there, how having recruited and trained Interahamwe he directed the massacre of thousands of Tutsi families who had sought shelter. His orders were to get rid of ‘this filth.’ At Murambi, there were an estimated 50,000 people murdered.

After the genocide was over in November 1994, the Council, following its duty to punish the crime under the 1948 Genocide Convention, had carried the legal and financial burden of proving the perpetrators' guilt. The Council had provided the means needed to defend the accused and had established a tribunal that found them guilty for their part in a campaign of extermination. It had developed as a historical fact the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi.

Now, this same international judicial system, established to take the high-level perpetrators out of circulation, had created a legal process that seemed explicitly designed to set these perpetrators free at the first opportunity, ignoring the commitment under the Genocide Convention to punish the perpetrators of the crime properly.

The prisoners released were individuals who had relentlessly challenged the historical facts that formed the basis for their convictions and, with some success, had duped unwary journalists who seemed incapable of recognizing their lies, fooled by their disinformation and fake news. In setting them free, the Mechanism had enabled their ongoing campaign.79

The harm to survivors was incalculable. For them, genocide is a crime with no end.

At the time of completing this investigation an article was published confirming our own conclusion that strong evidence implicates Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame in the downing of Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana’s airplane.


1. Stephen W. Smith, ‘Révélations sur l’attentat qui a déclenché le génocide rwandais’, Le Monde, 10 March 2004.

2. Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, Rwanda: L’histoire secrète, Editions du Panama, 2005.

3. There is an English translation of this report from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda:

4. Jacques Morel and George Kapler, ‘Analyse de l’ordonnance de soit-communiqué du juge Bruguière mettant en cause Paul Kagame pour l’attentat du 6 avril 1994 à Kigali’, 12 January 2007.

5. Wikileaks, Classified Cable 1349 Rwanda: ‘French Judge ends questioning of Rose’, from Paris to Sec State, 11 October 2009.

6. Wikileaks cable, Secret, 07 Paris 322, ‘Judge on France, Rwanda, Pakistan, and his political future’, from Embassy Paris to Secretary of State Washington, signed Stapleton, 7 January 2007.

7. Morel and Kapler, ‘Analyse de l’ordonnance’.


9. Commission of a Citizens’ Inquiry into the Role of France during the Genocide of the Tutsi in 1994, Report, ‘L’horreur qui nous prend au visage’, Testimony Colette Braeckman, 349.

10. Déclaration de Témoin, Abdul Ruzibiza, Investigators Hamidou Maiga and Mohamed Ali Lejmi, Redacted, 14, 17, 19 May 2002.

11. Letter to Le Chef d’État-Major de la Gendarmerie, from F.-X. Nsanzuwera.

12. UNAMIR CIVPOL from CPIO, H. J. Kranzl, Inspector to SRSG, ‘Shooting of Minister of Public Works and Energy’, 23 March 1994.

13. Interviews, Sources prefer to remain anonymous.

14. François-Xavier Nsanzuwera, ‘Rapport d’expertise rédigé à la demande du tribunal  tribunal pénal international sur le Rwanda: Procès contre Rutaqanda Georges, La criminalité des Interahamwe entre 1992 et avril 1994’, Brussels, 21 June 1997.

15. Colette Braeckman, ‘Le Rwanda le dos au mur’, Le Soir, 23 February 1994.

16. Nsanzuwera, ‘Rapport d’expertise’.

17. Assemblée Nationale, Mission d’Information Commune, Enquête sur la tragédie rwandaise (1990–1994), 15 December 1998, Paris.

18. Ibid., Letter from Filip Reyntjens to Bernard Cazeneuve, 10 December 1998, Annexe 6, p. 251.

19. Morel and Kapler.

20. Alain Gabet and Sébastien Jahan, ‘Quand la boussole perd le nord: ‘Analyse de l’ordonnance’ «Que sais-je ?» sur le génocide des Tutsi du Rwanda’, Cahiers d’Histoire. Revue d’Histoire Critique, 139, 2018, 171–193.

21. The president of Burundi was Cyprien Ntaryamira.

22. Defense Academy of the UK, Cranfield University, Investigation into the Crash of Dassault Falcon 50. Contract Report by Mike C. Warden, Department of Applied Science, Defence Academy, Shrivenham, and W. Alan McClue, Fellow of Cranfield Forensic Institute, Annexes.

23. Republic of Rwanda, Committee of Experts Investigation of the 6 April 1994 Crash of President Habyarimana’s Dassault Falcon 50 Aircraft, January 2010.

24. Report of Judge Marc Trévidic, Cour d’Appel de Paris, Paris, Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, Rapport d’expertise, Destruction en Vol du Falon 50, Kigali (Rwanda), 5 January 2012. The Commission of Experts comprised Claudine Oosterlinck, Daniel van Schendel, Jean Huon, Jean Sompayrac and Olivier Chavanis. The report is 314 pages long with twenty-four pages of conclusions  numbered C1 to C24 and four annexes.

25. The interviews of Esther Mujawayo and Jean-François Dupaquier, ‘Rapport Trévidic – Les Rwandais de France s’expriment’, YouTube, 11 January 2012.

26. Esther Mujawayo, Souâd Belhaddad and Simone Veil, Survivantes: Rwanda, dix ans après le génocide, Aube: La Tour d’Aigues, 2004.

27. Stephen W. Smith, ‘Rwanda in six scenes’, London Review  Review of Books, 17 March 2011.

28. Colette Braeckman, ‘Ruzibiza était un temoin clé de l’attentat’, Le Soir, 24 September 2010.

29. Letter from Emmanuel Ruzigana to Judge Bruguière, Oslo, 30 October 2006. See Morel and Kapler, ‘Analyse de Cordennance’, 6, note 23.

30. Jean-Philippe Ceppi, ‘Les services secrets rwandais avaient leur central à Berne’, Le Quotidien, 9 June 1994.

31. Commission Rogatoire Internationale siégeant au TPIR, Interrogatoire de M. Théoneste Bagosora, interrogé par le juge Jean-Louis Bruguière, le 18 mai 2000. Annexe 53 André Guichaoua: accessed on

32. Luc de Temmerman, 26 June 1994. Devant la Cour de Cassation, 2éme ChambreAudience du 26 juin 1994. Attached Ex Far equipment summary as of 6 April 1994.

33. ICTR-98-41 Testimony, Théoneste Bagosora, 2 November 2005.

34. Kanombe camp, July 2012.

35. Grégoire de Saint Quentin has given the following statements: 26 May 1998 to the French Assembly Mission d’Information; on 8 June 2000 to the inquiry of Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière and on 7 December 2011 he sent a ten-page email to the Trévidic/Poux inquiry.

36. Bruguière report, 43.

37. Human Rights Watch Africa, Rwanda: A New Catastrophe?, London, December 1994.

38. UN Restricted, Daily Information Digest, Special Report Rwanda, DPKO-Situation Centre, CNR 530, 1 September 1994 (author’s archive).

39. CIA, Rwanda: Security Conditions at Kigali Airport: Capabilities and Intentions, 13 July 1994,

40. Gabet and Jahan, ‘Quand la boussole perd le nord’, 10.

41. René Lemarchand, ‘Reconsidering France’s role in the Rwandan genocide’,, 13 June 2018.

42. Filip Reyntjens, Le Génocide des Tutsi au Rwanda, Paris: Que sais-je?, 2017.

43. Helen C. Epstein, Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda, and the War on Terror, Columbia Global Reports, 2017; Helen C. Epstein, ‘America’s hidden role in the Rwandan genocide’, Guardian, 12 September 2017.

44. Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was unable to provide an exact date.

45. ICTR-99-52, Prosecutor C. Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze, Judgement and Sentence, 3 December 2003.

46. MICT-13-37-ES.1. - the decision for the early release of Ferdinand Nahimana, 0045/1.

47. They are: Jean-Paul Akayesu, Théoneste Bagosora, Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, Jean Kambanda, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, Mikaeli Muhimana, Yussuf Munyakazi, Alfred Musema, Hassan Ngeze, Eliézer Niyitegeka, Tharcisse Renzaho and Laurent Semanza.

48. This is specified in the agreement between the UN and the government of Mali dated 12 February 1999, which reads: ‘Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners approved by ECOSOC resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2067 (LXII) of 13 May 1977, the Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted by General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, and the Basic Principles Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990’.

49. Judge Meron, Public redacted version of the 22 September 2016 decision of the president of the early release of Ferdinand Nahimana, MICT-13-37-ES.1.

50. The three lawyers are: Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, Diana Ellis QC and Joanna Evans.

51. Jessica M. Kelder, Barbora Holá and Joris van Wijk, ‘Rehabilitation and Early Release of Perpetrators of International Crimes: A Case Study of the ICTY and ICTR’, International Criminal Law Review, 14, 2014, 1177–1203.

52. ‘Men Behind Rwandan Genocide Languish in Mali Prison’, Capital News FM, 6 April 2014, Bamako.

53. Ferdinand Nahimana, Rwanda: Les virages ratés, Éditions Source du Nil, 2007; Ferdinand Nahimava, Le Combat pour la vérité, Éditions Source du Nil, 2011.

54. Ferdinand Nahimana, ‘Réponse de Ferdinand Nahimana à Jean-Baptiste Nkuliyingoma’, France-Rwanda Tribune, 11 March 2012.

55. Robin Philpot, Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, Montreal: Baraka Books, 2013.

56. For a detailed legal argument see Gregory S. Gordon, Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, 235.

57. ICTR-99-52-A, Prosecutor v. Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, Hassan Ngeze.

58. Gregory S. Gordon, Atrocity Speech Law Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition.

59. Bill Berkeley, ‘Judgement Day’, Washington Post, 11 October 1998.

60. ICTR, The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu, Case No. ICTR-96-4-I, Judgment, 2 September 1998, in particular paras 692 (re: crimes of humanity of rape and other inhuman acts), 731 (re: genocide) and 687 (re: torture).

61. Pamela Shipman and Lauren Rumble, ‘Neglected Challenges: The Humanitarian Responsibility to Protect’, in OCHA, The Shame of War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), 2007, 115.

62. Medina Haeri and Nadine Puechguirbal, ‘From Helplessness to Agency: Examining the Plurality of Women’s Experiences in Armed Conflict’, International Review of the Red Cross, 92: 877, March 2010.

63. UN Security Council resolution 1966, 22 December 2010.

64. The speed with which the Security Council wanted to close the tribunals influenced the creation of the Mechanism. There were numerous delays in the completion deadlines set by the Security Council and so, in resolution 1966 – to put further pressure on the ICTR and the ICTY to finalise their work – it was decided the Mechanism would start its operations before the tribunals closed. As a result, the Arusha branch commenced functioning on 1 July 2012 and The Hague branch began its operations on 1 July 2013.

65. Roisin Mulgrew, ‘Releasing International Prisoners’, in Martine Herzog-Evans (ed.), Offender Release and Supervision: The Role of Courts and the Use of Discretion, Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers, 2014, 21–51.

66. UN Security Council resolution 955, 8 November 1994.

67. ‘There shall only be pardon or commutation of sentence if the President of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, in consultation with the judges, so decides on the basis of the interests of justice and the general principles of law.

68. See Mulgrew, ‘Releasing International Prisoners’, note 36, Rule 150 MICT RPE; para 7, MICT PDER.

69. Dr Roisin Mulgrew, assistant professor in law, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nottingham University.

70. Bisengimana, President’s Decision, Public Redacted version, MICT-12-07, 11.12.12.

71. New Zealand from New York to Wellington, ‘Security Council: The establishment of a criminal tribunal for Rwanda’, 26 October 1994, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Official Diplomatic Reporting, Volume 5, documents presented to Rwandan government, April 2019.

72. Chris McGreal, ‘Rwanda appalled at chance of early release for genocide criminal’, Guardian, 6 June 2018.

73. Jina Moore, ‘Betraying justice for Rwanda’s genocide survivors’, Nation, 9 July 2018.‘Judge who freed 10 genocide convicts seeks new UN contract’, KT Press, 29 January 2018.

75. UN Finance Committee figures.

76. The ten released were: Ferdinand Nahimana, Emmanuel Rukundo, Alphonse Nteziryayo, Gerard Ntakirutimana, Innocent Sagahutu, Paul Bisengimana, Omar Serushago, Tharcisse Muvunyi, Juvénal Rugambarara, Michel

77. UN Security Council, 8278 meeting, 6 June 2018, S/PV./8278.

78. The non-permanent Security Council members were Germany, Indonesia, South Africa, Domincan Republic, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and Poland.

79. UN Security Council, 8278 meeting, 6 June 2018, S/PV./8278.


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