Rwanda genocide: Will new report close the book on who started it?
The Mutszini report released Monday collects new Belgian military testimony, ballistics investigations by British experts, previous UN reports, and some 557 witness testimonies – in an effort to take a definitive position on the April 6, 1994 presidential assassination that started the Rwanda genocide.
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The “Report of the Investigation into the Causes and Circumstances of and Responsibility for the Attack of 06/04/1994 Against The Falcon 50 Rwandan Presidental Aeroplane Registration Number 9XR-NN,” known as the Mutsinzi report, after the lead investigator Jean Mutsinzi, describes the plane as taken down “by three whites with the help of the presidential guard … from the Kanombe military camp.” But it does not offer further information on the “whites.”Skip to next paragraph
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The report’s strength, according to early reads by experts, are in setting a context and motive for claims by the current Rwandan government that Hutu extremists were responsible for the downing of the plane. The Arusha peace accords Habyarimana had nearly implemented would have split the Rwandan military, and placed nearly half the Army under the control of Tutsis at a time when the Hutu extremist movements were gaining terrific strength. High-level Hutu extremists surrounding the moderate Habyarimana were loath to let that happen.
Report lays out narrative and a motive
Rue 89, the French daily news website, says the inquiry “provides new elements to understand the narrative of facts and to correct a misunderstanding.” Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker, author of “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda,” argue similarly of a “convincing narrative.”
In the weeks leading up to the plane crash, three key Habyarimana associates openly threatenedt to kill him, Hutu newspapers and radio stations hinted at removing him between April 2 and 8, Belgian military and UN forces were aware of a plot, and even the crew of the Falcon 50 aircraft were frightened, the report relates.
In one finding, Bagosora had arranged for Habyarimana's Army chief of staff, General Nsabimana, a moderate, to be on the plane. When Nsabimana discovered he would be riding with Habyarimana, he got off the plane in fear and did not reboard until Habyarimana got off and ordered him back.
“The decision to have the Army Chief of Staff traveling to Dar es Salaam with the head of state is absolutely abnormal and amounts to a consipiracy of some sort,” the report states.
“[T]he assassination was a coup d’état,” Gourevitch wrote last week. “At the time of his death, Habyarimana was on the brink of implementing the Arusha Accords, a power-sharing peace agreement with the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army led by Paul Kagame .... But the Hutu Power genocidaires wanted to consolidate their power through their campaign of extermination.”
Mr. Wallis says, “only hours after the plane went down the presidential guards were in the street killing Hutu and Tutsi moderates. They were ready.”
Taking it easy on the French?
The Mutsinzi report does not reach the levels of French complicity assumed by Kagame's government.