Paris prosecutors close investigation of French peacekeepers in Rwanda genocide

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© Simon Wohlfahrt, AFP

French judges dropped a case against French peacekeepers deployed during Rwanda's 1994 genocide who were accused of being complicit in massacres, legal sources said on Wednesday.

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 within days.

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" responsibilities over the slaughter of around 800,000 people, mainly minority ethnic Tutsis.

>> On symbolic Rwanda visit, Macron recognises France's 'responsibility' in 1994 genocide

An estimated 50,000 people were killed in the Bisesero area, which was deemed a haven of Tutsi resistance.

Diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda have recently thawed following decades of tensions and ill-will linked to the genocide.

The decision by judges to drop the case can be appealed.

(AFP)