The Rwandan genocide : opening of an investigation against BNP Paribas

The parquet de Paris opened on 22 August last year, a judicial investigation against BNP Paribas and against X for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda, according to judicial sources quoted by AFP and Reuters. The opening of an investigation following a complaint filed in late June by three NGOS, with constitution of civil part, for those same leaders, but also for aiding and abetting war crimes. This last incrimination, however, has not been accepted by the public prosecutor of Paris.

| A read : BNP Paribas covered by a claim of “complicity of genocide” in Rwanda

The controversies over the attitude of France, far from being extinct

These three NGOS – the association of anti-corruption Sherpa, the Collective of civil parties for Rwanda (SCRC) and the non-governmental organization Ibuka France (Memory and Justice) – accused the banking group had released in June, 1994 of the fund for the financing of the purchase of 80 tons of weapons” for the benefit of the rwandan government of the time and of the militia of the hutu, in the genocide of the Tutsis, and in violation of an embargo imposed by the united Nations.

As a reminder, the associations claim that the BNP has authorized, on 14 and 16 June 1994, transfers of funds to more than 1.3 million dollars (1.1 million euros at the time) that the national Bank of Rwanda (BNR) held in it to the account in Switzerland, Wilhelm Tertius Ehlers, a south african owner of a company in the brokering of arms. The next day, Mr. Ehlers, and colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a military hutu regarded as the theorist of the genocide of the Tutsi, and since condemned by the international criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), have concluded in the Seychelles, a sale of 80 tonnes of weapons, which would then have been forwarded to Gisenyi, Rwanda, via the airport zairians from Goma, according to the NGOS.

Twenty-three years after the massacres, so that the attitude of the French authorities is still the subject of heated controversy and bitter legal battles, this is the first time that a French bank is found at the heart of suspicions of complicity.

In June, the site RFI Africa explained that, “according to the associations, the BNP could not ignore the intentions of the rwandan authorities, for which they have authorized the money transfer. At the same time, other banks refused to release the money in rwanda. This is the case, for example, the group’s belgian Bank Brussels Lambert, cited in the complaint. The group explains that the banking community had a perfect knowledge of the abuses ongoing in Rwanda (…).”

“No new development”, according to the bank

According to a source close to the dossier, it is the judge Alexandre Baillon, the pole, crimes against humanity, which has been designated to carry out the instruction.

A spokeswoman for BNP Paribas, interviewed by Reuters, has minimized this new step.

“It is simply the result of mechanical and mandatory procedure in the context of a complaint of this type. This is not a new development,” she said. “The bank has not been informed by the media of this complaint, which she did not know the substance.”

Approximately 25 cases related to the genocide in Rwanda are currently educated in France by a pole of investigators and magistrates of the pole genocides and war crimes of the tribunal de grande instance of Paris. This pole was created in the face of the accumulation of complaints regarding this genocide, many authors were refugees in france.

(with Reuters and AFP)

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