Paris has acknowledged receiving requests by Rwandan authorities to investigate several senior French officials it accuses of playing a role in the 1994 genocide.
Last week, Rwanda said it had begun formal investigations into the role of senior French officers and politicians in connection with the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, with the initial inquest targeting 20 individuals.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed to Radio France Internationale that it had received requests from Rwanda in regard to the inquiry and they had forwarded them to the French Ministry of Justice for review.
French officials, however, declined to comment further on the matter, which is likely to worsen the already-damaged diplomatic ties between the two countries.
On Nov. 16, the French Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said accusations by Rwanda were “outrageously untrue.”
Rwanda and France maintain differing narratives on the genocide. Rwandan authorities say France, which backed the government of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, played a role in the killings, while French officials deny abetting the massacres, which swept across the country for 100 days, beginning April 7, 1994.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Rwanda Prosecutor-General Richard Muhumuza said the probe will focus on 20 individuals who will be required to answer to the allegations against them.
The announcement came barely two months after diplomatic relations between the nations deteriorated following France’s revelation that it would open a fresh inquiry into the shooting down of the airplane carrying Habyarimana.
Ruwanda responded by releasing a list of 22 senior French army officers it says knowingly aided the planning and execution of the genocide.
“For now, the inquiry will focus on 20 individuals who will be required by the Prosecution Authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them, to enable the Authority to make conclusions whether the concerned individuals should be formally charged or not,” Muhumuza said.
In November, Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the African nation would ask French authorities to allow its investigators to interrogate the 20 individuals.
“The Office of the Prosecutor-General expects that reciprocal judicial cooperation will be availed throughout this inquiry by the relevant French government agencies and authorities,” Mushikiwabo said.
Mushikiwabo said Rwanda was no longer interested in pursuing good relations with France.