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French officers sue over genocide report

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-06

Ten officers who served on a French military mission to Rwanda in 1994 were named in an August report as having had a role in the country's genocide. The 10 filed a slander lawsuit on Tuesday against the Rwandan government.

Ten senior French officers filed suit against Rwanda for slander on Tuesday after a justice minister's report accused them of taking part in the 1994 genocide.
The five generals and five colonels served in Operation Turquoise, a French military mission to Rwanda in 1994 that has been marred by controversy over allegations that it helped Hutu genocide perpetrators.
The 10 including General Jean-Claude Lafourcade who commanded Operation Turquoise were named in a report released in August by Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama on France's alleged role in the genocide.
"These serious and unfounded accusations could not be left without a response," said Lafourcade in a statement.
"This is why 10 officers whose honour has been tarnished have decided to launch legal proceedings to counter these accusations in the courts of our country," he said.
The officers have filed suit for slander in a Paris court, saying the report accused them of "having fully taken charge of the genocidal campaign" through Operation Turquoise, according to Lafourcade.
The report alleges that France was aware of preparations for the genocide, contributed to planning the massacres and actively took part in the killing.
It names 13 senior politicians and 20 military officials as responsible and raises the prospect of Rwandan legal action against them.
Following its release on August 5, France rejected the allegations as "unacceptable".
Defence Minister Herve Morin said French soldiers had nothing to be ashamed of from their service in Rwanda.
At least 800,000 people died, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, according to the United Nations.

Date created : 2008-11-05