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A fake inquiry on a major event: analysis of the Mutsinzi report on the 6th April 1994 attack on the Rwandan President’s aeroplane


  • Reyntjens, Filip


The report of the Mutsinzi commission attempts to show that President Habyarimana's airplane was not downed by the RPF, as the French investigating judge Bruguière concluded but by Hutu radicals who were close to the main victim of the attack. The report raises a number of serious questions. The Mutsinzi committee claims to be impartial, but all the commissioners are members of the RPF, which means that it is both judge and party. This is made abundantly clear from the beginning of the report and is subsequently confirmed throughout the body of the report, which treats as solid evidence testimonies showing the complicity of Hutu extremists, but systematically disregards the evidence pointing towards the RPF. While the committee claims to have interviewed hundreds of witnesses, the validity of their testimonies must be considered with caution. Of those identified, many are members of the former government army FAR; all of them were interviewed while convicted or detained, or fearing arrest, in full awareness of what those in power expected them to say, and of the price to be paid if they did not. Their testimonies are thus of doubtful quality. The committee uses certain documents, for instance from Belgian judicial files, in a selective and sometimes dishonest way. Numerous examples in the report show that the method used by the committee raises serious doubts. The committee generally proceeds by first presenting unsubstantiated hypotheses or even downright untruths as facts; the accumulation of these “facts” is then used to establish the “truth”. The conclusion the committee reaches is not credibly based on the information emanating from the enquiry, and the fraudulent way in which the report was made rather reinforces the suspicion that the RPF committed the attack. There are now two radically opposed versions of the truth as to who is responsible for the downing of the presidential plane: one is in the findings of the Bruguière inquiry, the other in the Mutsinzi report. Both point fingers at suspects, albeit different ones, and both indicate that a crime has been committed. The natural way of dealing with such findings is to conduct a contradictory debate in a court of law. However, it would seem that both Rwanda and France, in their attempt to improve relations, are intent on sacrificing justice on the altar of political expediency. The Rwandan people deserve better.

Suggested Citation

  • Reyntjens, Filip, 2010. "A fake inquiry on a major event: analysis of the Mutsinzi report on the 6th April 1994 attack on the Rwandan President’s aeroplane," IOB Working Papers 2010.07, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
  • Handle: RePEc:iob:wpaper:2010007

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