Sarkozy describes France's 'blindness' to genocide in Rwanda

Friday, February 26, 2010; A13

KIGALI, RWANDA -- France made serious errors in judgment over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and wants to ensure that all those responsible for the slaughter are caught and punished, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.

Sarkozy was visiting his counterpart in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, to cement improved diplomatic relations following years of acrimony, recriminations and diplomatic standoffs over events surrounding the genocide.

Sarkozy stopped short of offering an official apology for his country's role during the killing of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in less than 100 days.

"There was a serious error of judgment, a sort of blindness, when we didn't foresee the genocidal dimensions of the government," he told reporters at a news conference with Kagame.

"Errors of assessment and political mistakes were made here, and they led to absolutely tragic consequences," Sarkozy said.

The two countries broke off diplomatic ties in 2006 after a Paris judge accused Kagame and nine aides of shooting down then-President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane in April 1994 -- the catalyst for the massacre.

Rwanda rejected the charges and accused the administration of President François Mitterrand of training and arming Hutu militias responsible for the killings.

-- Reuters

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