French judges drop Rwanda massacre charges against army peacekeepers

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French judges have dropped a case against French soldiers deployed during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The men had been accused of complicity in crimes against humanity.

Survivors of the June 1994 slaughter in the hills of Bisesero in western Rwanda had accused French troops of deliberately abandoning them to Hutu extremists who murdered hundreds of people in the area.

French prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into possible complicity in crimes against humanity in December 2005 after complaints filed by survivors and human rights groups.

Judges overseeing the case have opted against proceeding with a trial for the servicemen, in a widely expected decision.

Investigators had not established “the direct participation of French forces in exactions committed in the refugee camps, nor complicity through aid or assistance to genocidal forces, nor complicity by abstention,” said a statement from the Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau.

Investigators also called for the case to be dropped last year.

France, which had close ties to the ethnically Hutu government in power at the time, deployed thousands of troops in a UN-backed peacekeeping mission in the country during the genocide.

In March last year, a landmark French report compiled by historians concluded that Paris bore “serious and overwhelming” responsibility in the slaughter of around 800,000 people, mainly minority ethnic Tutsis.