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Rwanda accuses France directly over 1994 genocide

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda formally accused senior French officials on Tuesday of involvement in its 1994 genocide and called for them to be put on trial.

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Among those named in a report by a Rwandan investigation commission were former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and late President Francois Mitterrand.

Kigali has previously accused Paris of covering up its role in training troops and militia who carried out massacres that killed some 800,000 people, and of propping up the ethnic Hutu leaders who orchestrated the slaughter.

France denies that and says its forces helped protect people during a U.N.-sanctioned mission in Rwanda at the time.

The latest allegations from Kigali came on Tuesday with the publication of the report by an independent Rwandan commission set up to investigate France’s role in the bloodshed.

“The French support was of a political, military, diplomatic and logistic nature,” the report said.

“Considering the gravity of the alleged facts, the Rwandan government asks competent authorities to undertake all necessary actions to bring the accused French political and military leaders to answer for their acts before justice.”

An official at the French Foreign Ministry told Reuters that the French government had not yet received any official communication from Kigali and so could not comment.

Attached to the report was a list of 33 accused French political and military officials.

As well as Mitterrand and Villepin, others listed include then foreign minister Alain Juppe, a senior figure in current President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, then prime minister Edouard Balladur and Hubert Vedrine, both still senior politicians.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame cut ties with France in November 2006 in protest at a French judge’s call for him to stand trial over the death of his predecessor in April 1994 -- an event widely seen as unleashing the genocide.

That call prompted street protests in Kigali. Relations soured further after the Rwandan commission later heard accounts from victims who said they were raped by French soldiers after seeking refuge with them during the genocide.

But ties between the two nations had improved in recent months after Kagame met Sarkozy at a European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon in December 2007.

(Additional reporting by Tamora Vidaillet in Paris; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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