[This is our English translation of Col. Luc Marchal’s article about the investigation by French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière into the SAM 16 missile strike against the Rwandan presidential plane on 6 April 1994. Our translation of judge Bruguière’s report can be found on this blog here: 

There has recently been some--though not much--ado about US/NATO terrorist attacks against civilians in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Cynical and pathetic explanations for this butchery, like ‘The bad guys used these women and kids as human shields!’ or ‘From the looks of the mess, the bad guys did most of the killing with grenades!’ or ‘Wow, looks like we musta screwed the pooch on this one. But we’re NOT the bad guys. Sorry!’ come straight out of the NATO/Mossad terror handbook. Along with, ‘If anybody asks any questions, they’re just anti-Semit--fuck ‘em!’ 

This is all too reminiscent of the early days of the last US Democratic administration, when $3 Bill Clinton, as his first foreign policy gesture, ordered the bombing of Baghdad and killed a world-renowned artist--a woman--yet none dared call Clinton a ‘femmocidaire’. And Bill was no novice at remote controlled murder, having taken time out of his busy 1991 presidential campaign to sign the death warrant on an auto-lobotomized black man, Ricky Lee Rector--a man so removed from reality that, before entering the infamous Arkansas execution protocol, he stuck a piece of pie, the dessert from his last meal, under his bunk for later, and vowed to fully support his killer’s presidency. 

Then, of course, Clinton--in fact, Mr & Mrs Clinton--went on to collaborate on the mass murders of innumerable Middle Easterners, Slavs and Africans, in Palestine, Iraq, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda/Burundi/Congo--just off the top of my addled pate. 

Yeah, those Dems were pretty much equal opportunity liquifactionists. So now, the Man from Hope (AR, home of American Mineral Fields, one of the principal parasitic infections in Central Africa), has handed off his executioner’s hood to the Man whose Audacity to Hope he can make a difference is being sorely tested by the wasted nation he has been chosen to lead. When Rush Limbaugh is the Speaker of the Opposition, all I can think of is ‘Praise Jack Lord and pass the Oxycontin!’ 

But!!! We have not given up on President Obama--yet! However, he is going to have to assert what are coyly called ‘America’s core values’ a little further back into history than just the punishment the Bush/Cheney torture memos. Does ‘We’re Americans! We don’t fucking do that!’ refer only to, like, water-boarding someone with Vanilla Fudge cranked up to 12? Or would CNN’s setting up Radio/Television Serbia, on 23 April 1999, with a Larry King live feed, so that the ‘visibly demented’ General Wesley Clark could fire a Cruise missile into the station and kill 16 of CNN’s putative colleagues--would this qualify as something Americans don’t fucking do? 

The Obama administration, if it hopes to save the soul of a nation, is going to have to apply its new standard of decency to the whole murderous juggernaut that has supplanted Cold War anti-communism with an even more barbarous assault on the world’s powerless and poor: the War of Terror on The Terrified. 

For the US, through its various military contractors and proxies, like NATO, the IDF, the RPF and al Qaeda, to continue the criminal irrationality currently on display in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Eastern Congo is to condemn his presidency, his nation and its people to a Historical death sentence and a cold, ugly execution at its own hands.--mc] 


Judge Bruguière’s investigation into the civilian plane shoot down of 6 April 1994--by Col. Luc Marchal 

The investigation by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière has continued to bringing on an outpouring printer’s ink and rabid froth from opponents. The journalist Colette Braeckman is one of those who thinks the storm created by this inquest is blowing over. Colonel Luc Marchal’s view is quite the contrary. 

Is Judge Bruguière’s investigation of the 6 April 1994 attack nothing but a burst bladder? 

Let’s recall the facts. 

The French judge’s investigation was begun in 1998 after a complaint against an unnamed party was filed by the daughter of one the members of the flight crew of the Rwandan presidential Falcon 50 jet, and was, subsequently, joined by other members of the victims’ families. At the end of November 2006, judge Bruguière, First Vice President of the Superior Court of Paris charged with anti-terrorism, issued an order for nine international arrest warrants against close associates of Paul Kagame. Since Kagame, as the sitting president of Rwanda, is protected by executive immunity, judge Bruguière has turned to the Secretary General of the UN and demanded that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which has authority over such matters, take up the adjudication of these charges. 

Evidence was presented and testimony heard over an eight year period. The least one can say is that these hearings were not rushed. The Rwandan authorities were well aware of the scope of the proceedings and reacted long before the warrants were issued. In 2005 they threatened several times to take France to court over its complicity in the genocide. Charges along these lines were actually filed in Paris against the French military by Rwandan survivors. Then, in April 2006, a commission (called the ‘Muyco Commission’ after its president, Jean de Dieu Muyco) was set up to investigate ‘the role of France before, during and after the genocide.’ 

Seventy pages long, the order signed by judge Bruguière is somewhat unusual in that it was not composed solely to justify the issuing of international arrest warrants. But this essential moment in the process allowed the synthesis of investigations conducted by the National Anti-terrorist Division (DNAT). Its conclusion is unequivocal: Paul Kagame is directly implicated in the attack of 6 April 1994. 

There were various reactions from Kigali, describing the court order as totally unfounded, based on gossip and rumor, and the French judiciary was accused of being motivated more by politics than justice in this case. Other reactions bordered on the surreal, with certain officials contending that President Habyarimana and General Nsabimana, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces, were legitimate targets in the context of an armed conflict. They were no doubt overlooking that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had recently signed a peace accord, and that the president of Burundi and other dignitaries from both countries were on the Falcon 50. More concretely, Rwanda also broke off diplomatic relations with France, and in March 2007, two Rwandan generals, accused by judge Bruguière, filed a complaint against him in a Belgian court, tantamount to filing charges against the Belgian State. 

One should remember two major elements of this situation: First, at the end of 2006, Judge Erik Møse, at that time, Chief Justice of the ICTR and presiding judge in the ‘Military I’ trial, entered the entire Bruguière report into the record of that trial of the four Rwandan officers charged with masterminding the genocide. The second element is the completion, in February 2008, of the investigation of Spanish judge Fernando Andreu Merelles. This inquiry into the killing of nine Spanish nationals carried out in Rwanda between 1994 and 2000, concludes with the ordering of 40 arrest warrants against officers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). In a detailed finding of 181 pages, the judge determined that those charged had committed acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism on the orders of president Kagame. Since Kagame has executive immunity as president of Rwanda, again, a warrant was not issued in his name. In his conclusions, the judge accuses the RPF of having set up a veritable criminal organization. He estimated that since taking power in Kigali in July 1994, the RPF has created an actual reign of terror, not only in the functioning of its dictatorial regime, but especially by the establishment of parallel structures responsible for committing heinous crimes against the civilian populations, both domestic and foreign. He goes on to state that the overarching aim of this policy was an invasion of Congo, which, after being carried out under the pretext of national security, allowed the invaders to make off with precious natural resources and, at the same time, enabled the government to maintain itself in power and exercise geopolitical domination over the region. The judge furthermore points out that the crimes committed in 1994 are within the purview of the ICTR and, more specifically, within the authority of its prosecutor, the Gambian Hassan Bubacar Jallow. 

A dubious investigation that is gradually slipping away? 

In an article in the daily ’Le Soir’ of 6 April 2008, which was not the first of its kind, the Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman (CB) tried to show that the ‘Bruguière file’ has deflated like a cheap balloon. How does she actually fault the French judge and his investigation? 

First off, let’s remember that the only document (in the ‘Bruguière file’) that has been made public is the 17 November 2006 order for international arrest warrants. The full report itself is available only to those who have the specific legal right to see it. That is, at the current stage of the proceedings, only to Mme Rose Kabuye (who has been brought before the French judiciary) and her lawyers. So, one has to wonder just how Mme Braeckman gained access to this file and is able knowingly to comment on it? 

Let’s be clear. We are not pretending to know ‘The Truth.’ We do understand, however, that if we are wrong, our errors will be demonstrated to us with objective evidence and not by unwarranted assertions, half-truths, generalizations and other subterfuge aimed at avoiding the essential debate. In a file as fraught with emotion as that of Rwanda and Congo (in the past nearly twenty years, the Great Lakes region of Africa has been transformed into an immense killing field with several million victims), the citizen is within his rights to expect to be informed in the most rigorous fashion. If judge Bruguière’s file, because of whatever human errors, contains certain imperfections or informational lapses, it is quite understandable. But to use such flaws to reduce an eight-year investigation to a mere non-entity, even to question the integrity of the judge and his colleagues, is to cross a line that should never be crossed. And, by crossing it, which seems to be what has happened in this case, one loses all objectivity and credibility. 

Three important elements, among others, are brought up in the CB article to justify her lame analysis of the inconsistencies of the file: 

--The main witnesses have gone back on their testimonies. 

--A Rwandan interpreter and translator, Fabien Singaye, who aided judge Bruguière and his investigators in the interrogation of witnesses, was anything but neutral. 

--The authorization given Mme Kabuye to return to Rwanda and to continue her official duties, even though the arrest warrant had not been formally revoked [sic--the international arrest warrant was executed on Mme Kabuye at the Frankfurt airport on 10 November 2008, and she was subsequently transferred to Paris, where her appearance in court satisfied that order and the warrant was no longer in force--cm/p], is indicative of the weakness of the charges against her. 

What about these different allegations? 

As to the retraction of testimony by key witnesses: 

Two important witness have gone back on their statements: Abdul Ruzibiza and Emmanuel Ruzigana. They are, in fact, two key witnesses but hardly the only witnesses to have testified in these matters. 

Take the better known case of Abdul Ruzibiza. His book, ‘Rwanda, l’histoire secrète’ (‘Rwanda, the Secret Story,’ though, as far as I know, not only has the book not been translated into English--the new second language of Rwanda--but it has been banned in that country--cm/p), issued by Éditions du Panama in 2005, greatly troubled the debate on Central Africa. Basically, this book made the case that Paul Kagame was responsible for the 6 April 1994 attack as well as the far-ranging massacres carried out in Rwanda and Congo-Zaire. Such accusations were not big news at that time. They had already been made against the Kigali strong man well before Ruzibiza or Ruzigana surfaced--notably by Jean-Pierre Mugabe, Aloys Ruyenzi and Déogratias Mushayidi, to name just a few. 

It is true that, in the Soir article of last April 6th, CB indicates that she had met Ruzibiza back in the day and that she found him to be less than credible. Shocking when one considers that Ruzibiza’s book was prefaced by two renowned experts on the African Great Lakes region: Claudine Vidal, emeritus director of research at the CNRS and André Guichaoua, professor of sociology at the University of Paris (1--Panthéon-Sorbonne). These folks are not lightweights! 

It is not because Ruzibiza flipped on his testimony before Bruguière that the 495 pages of his book become a crock of inventions, or lies and wild fantasies. It is even less reasonable to assume that having lived through some of the situations described in the book, we can attest that the details concerning them are, in fact, correct. But whatever the case, it seems to us a little impetuous to declare Ruzibiza to be just a minor bullshit artist and that the whole Bruguière report goes flat when its principal witness caves in. 

It might be useful to remind Mme Braeckman that Ruzibiza also testified before the ICTR and that his testimony, which covered the principal themes of his book, was given under oath. Under such conditions, it is surprising that the prosecutor at the ICTR did not think it necessary to recall this witness and charge him with perjury, since he had the authority to do so and had, in fact, done so in the past. 

On the journalistic side, this move would have been something else again if, instead of taking Ruzibiza’s retractions at face value, a serious investigation had been opened into the real reasons for his flipping on his statements. Isn’t that, after all, the journalist’s job? 

To finish up this first point, we could say that if Ruzibiza had been the only person to accuse Paul Kagame of being directly implicated in the Rwandan tragedy, it would be right to call into question the relevance of all his allegations. Given that this is not the case and that many other direct witnesses have said substantially the same thing, it would be reasonable to look for the real reasons for Ruzibiza and Ruzigana to have gone back on their statements. Such an action would doubtlessly permit us to learn what exactly was the real motivation for these reversals. 

As to the controversial role of Fabien Singaye: 

According to CB, “The unpublished documents discovered in Switzerland--and to which we were able to gain exclusive access--establish that the Rwandan translator who assisted Bruguière in the questioning of witnesses was anything but impartial (. . .) so it is not surprising that witnesses like Emmanuel Ruzindana (who speaks no French) subsequently declared that he recognized none of the statements he had actually made . . .” 

But let’s try to stay serious here. Can you imagine for a moment that judge Bruguière, with his vast judicial experience, could have been duped like a fresh rookie? If the unpublished documents referred to by Mme Braeckman are like the so-called “Key witness to the Habyarimana assassination” (Le Soir of 6 May 2006), the only person to allege that there were three surface-to-air missiles fired at the president’s plane, then it is not worthy the time it takes to read it. You would really have to go out and do some serious digging to find such a witness and get such strong stuff! Because everyone who was in Kigali on the night of 6 April 1994 confirms that there were just two missiles, and not three, that were fired on the presidential Falcon 50. Dedicating a one-page article to such a seemingly whacked-out witness has for a long time been a way to cast doubt on the seriousness of the judge’s investigation, which only mentions two missiles being fired. 

Is the fact that Fabien Singaye is the son-in-law of Félicien Kabuga, accused of being one of the financiers of the genocide, really irrefutable evidence of the translator’s bias? While we’re at it, why not just put it out there that judge Bruguière is surrounded by a staff of genocidaire associates? A relationship like that of Kabuga with is son-in-law doesn’t fool anyone. Such an allusion is a time-tested means of covering up for the total absence of substance in an argument. If the unpublished documents mentioned are supportive of any real position, why not be more precise as to just what they contain? This would, at least, keep one from falling into vagaries, innuendos, if not outright defamation. 

To finish with this second point let me emphasize that the person Mme Braeckman accuses of being a ‘biased interpreter’ was needed for the transcription of the control tower tapes from Kigali airport and the testimony of two witnesses. Fabien Singaye had nothing, directly or indirectly, to do with the testimonies of either Ruzibiza or Ruzigana. Not even with that of Emmanuel Ruzindana, whose name does not even appear in judge Bruguière’s report! 

As to the special privileges extended to Mme Rose Kabuye: 

Here in Belgium we have recently become aware of a governmental crisis brought on by a simple interference by the executive branch into the judicial branch, or maybe it was the other way round. How do our French friends see the ‘separation of powers’? If we follow the smarmy, self-serving statements of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner with regard to the Kabuye affair, we get the feeling--shared by many--that the bubbly Mr K. has taken great and grave liberties with regard to the principle of the separation of powers. Strangely enough, his flagrant interfering has not brought anywhere near as great a reaction from French legislators as what we have seen here in Belgium. 

To speak of the charges against Mme Kabuye as being a huge ‘misunderstanding’ is a sort of provocation of the French judiciary. It is also a harsh blow to the families of the victims of the 6 April attack. Even if the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

The concern of the French president and his Foreign Minister about normalizing troubled relations between France and Rwanda are, in and of themselves, laudable. Nevertheless, we believe that all is not acceptable in the name realpolitik, and this normalization of relations would be tantamount to the obliteration of the histories of the several million victims sacrificed on the altar of absolute power. No, there are boundaries that should not be crossed. 

As disturbing is the appeal made at the beginning of this year by president Sarkozy to set up a new system for managing the resources and the territory of the provinces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. What? Does he think he’s the Bismarck of the Great Lakes here? Could he have forgotten what the French used to sing with their hands over their hearts and a tremolo in their throats? “They will not take Alsace and Lorraine . . .!” By what right would he force on the Congolese something which, in the past, the French paid an enormous price fighting against? And how much is he ready to do in order to roll out the red carpet for the new Mwami (King) of Rwanda? In any case, King Kagame is going to laugh until his lips fall off! 

Given what we have just seen, to suggest, as CB does, that the privileged treatment that Mme Kabuye received showed the Bruguière report to be nothing but an empty vessel, is to take her readers for idiots. 


So many years after the 6 April 1994 attack and things are still not back to normal. If after all these years this terrorist act is still spawning books and other documents about its consequences, it is because things are still unclear. Things are still so unclear that there are many who strive, with or against the current, to impose ‘their unilateral view’ of history on the world. But these views just do not stand up to historical analysis. And it is impossible to ignore that these tenants of public opinion, which enforce, far and wide, a sort of intellectual dictatorship by appropriating the ideas of ‘revisionism’ and ‘negationism’ to overwhelm all those who would dare pose even the slightest challenge to their version of history. 

The press should be content simply to play its noble role: to inform the public with complete objectivity. It should avoid, for its own obscure reasons, trying to take on the role of the judiciary. Justice is perfectly capable of meeting its own responsibilities. 

To pretend that the Bruguière investigation is about to collapse for want of consistency, is to trivialize another investigation that preceded it and came to the same conclusions. In 1997, Michael Hourigan, lead investigator for the ICTR working out of Kigali, put together a file which implicated the current Kigali regime in the murders of presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira. This investigation was well executed from beginning to end. While it started out with the presumption that the attack was the responsibility of extremist Hutus, the accumulation of evidence indicated that, in reality, the responsibility lay with the RPF. And, of course, we know what became of the ‘Hourigan file’: it was first shoved into the back of a drawer by Canadian Louise Arbour, the ICTR prosecutor at that time. Hourigan was told, summarily, to stop his investigation and to destroy all his supporting documents. 

And then, it is not the attempts to denigrate the Bruguière investigation by certain members of the press that will make us change our opinion on the necessity for the judicial process to take its normal course and to bring forth a trial. Only a trial will allow a true debate, with the confrontation of opposing arguments, to take place. It is also by way of a trial that, after all these years of obfuscation, we can hope to bring some real clarity to the history of the attack of 6 April 1994. 

Luc Marchal 
4 May 2009