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NGO Files Complaint and Seeks Investigation into Deaths of French Personnel During Rwanda Genocide

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Griffith Sarah

Apr 10, 2024

The Untold Story of French Lives Lost in the Rwanda Genocide

It claimed a French intelligence note that year suggested "the three French nationals could have been eliminated after they were witnesses" of the 6 April, 1994 assassination of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.The downing of his plane over Kigali triggered the genocide that killed more than 800,000 people between April and July 1994, mostly from the Tutsi minority but also moderate Hutus.
Current Rwandan President Paul kagame on left and late President Juvenal Habyarimana

Three decades since the harrowing Rwanda genocide that claimed over 800,000 lives, new efforts are underway to shed light on the unsolved deaths of two French officers and a civilian during the initial days of the 1994 crisis.

Survie, a French NGO committed to fostering improved Franco-African relations, alongside family members of the deceased, has officially filed a complaint demanding a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatalities of military police personnel Rene Maier, Alain Didot, and Didot's spouse, Gilda, in Kigali, Rwanda's capital.

This legal move by Survie aims to unravel the intricacies and assign accountability for the tragic demise of the two gendarmes and a gendarme's wife under enigmatic conditions.

The subsequent downing of Habyarimana's aircraft above Kigali was the catalyst for the ensuing mass slaughter, primarily of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, from April to July 1994.

Exactly three decades on, "this complaint aims to establish responsibilities in the death of two French gendarmes and the wife of one of them in Kigali [...] in circumstances that remain mysterious," Survie said in a statement.

It claimed a French intelligence note that year suggested;

"The three French nationals could have been eliminated after they were witnesses" of the 6 April, 1994 assassination of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.

The grim sequence of events saw the Didot couple's lives claimed just two days post-Habyarimana's assassination, on April 8, 1994. Alain Didot, who served as a radio technician, had been stationed in Rwanda since 1992 to offer counsel to the Rwandan army and enhance the security of the French embassy's communications systems.

Through this complaint, Survie and the grieving families seek not only justice but also clarity on the roles and experiences of French nationals in the tragic unfolding of the Rwanda genocide. The case reopens critical discussions about international involvement and the shadows cast by unresolved deaths amidst one of the 20th century's darkest chapters.

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