Rwanda: a complaint to Paris to “elucidate” the death of two French soldiers during the Tutsi genocide

Since Monday April 8, French justice has been seized of a complaint to “elucidate” the death of two French soldiers, René Maïer and Alain Didot, and the wife of one of them, Gilda Didot, in early April 1994, shortly after the outbreak of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda

Rwanda: a complaint to Paris to “elucidate” the death of two French soldiers during the Tutsi genocide

Since Monday April 8, French justice has been seized of a complaint to “elucidate” the death of two French soldiers, René Maïer and Alain Didot, and the wife of one of them, Gilda Didot, in early April 1994, shortly after the outbreak of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.

This complaint against The complaint, consulted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), denounces the offenses of war crimes, intentional homicide and use of forged documents.

Thirty years after the events, "this complaint aims to establish responsibilities concerning the death of two French gendarmes and the wife of one of them, in Kigali, (...) whose circumstances remain mysterious", specifies, in a press release, Survie, affirming that these three French people are “potential witnesses” to the attack against the plane of Rwandan Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994.

This attack was the trigger for the genocide which left more than 800,000 dead between April and July 1994, mainly among the Tutsi minority. Since Sunday, Rwanda has been marking 30 years since the genocide that plunged this small country into the abyss. The international community had been strongly criticized for its inaction before and during the genocide.

Fake death certificates

At the beginning of the 1990s, France supported President Habyarimana, a Hutu facing the Tutsi rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), based in Uganda and led by Paul Kagame. After an RPF offensive launched on October 1, 1990, Paris sent up to six hundred soldiers as part of Operation “Noroît”.

In this context, chief warrant officer Alain Didot, radio mechanic, arrived in Kigali in the summer of 1992 with his wife, Gilda. “Advisor to the FAR” [Rwandan Armed Forces] and ensuring “the security of communications at the French embassy”, he had installed a radio station at his home, according to the complaint. It “therefore occupies a function that is as central as it is sensitive.” Chief Warrant Officer René Maïer arrived in Kigali in September 1993 as a technical military assistant.

As the massacres began, Chief Warrant Officer Didot was no longer reachable by radio from April 8 at 2 p.m. He was at home with his wife. “On April 8 at 5 p.m., the Didot couple was reported dead by witnesses,” according to the complaint. Belgian peacekeepers recovered the remains of the couple and their Rwandan gardener in the garden of the villa on April 12, then those of René Maïer the next day.

The bodies of the three French people were repatriated to France after a visit to Bangui (Central African Republic), where the death certificates were drawn up. But these certificates – eight in number for the three victims – are fake, the complainants believe: the dates and reasons are “variable”, “accidental” death or by “firearms”. No autopsy was carried out and no investigation was carried out into this triple homicide.

In connection with the attack on the presidential plane?

As "suspicious elements", the complaint points in particular to "the synchronicity of these deaths with the attack" against the plane and "a note from the DGSE [which] suggests that the three French people could have been eliminated because they had been witnesses to the attack.”

The death of the three French people was nevertheless addressed during the investigations in Paris into the attack against the presidential plane, in which three French crew members died, and which resulted in a dismissal of the case. The question then arose of the “link” between the attack and the death of the two soldiers who were able to “hear a message revealing the circumstances of the attack” by the radio station, according to the complaint.

“They knew something and we killed them for it,” reacted to AFP Me Hector Bernardini, lawyer for the plaintiffs with Me Jean Simon. “To elucidate this mystery is to elucidate the case of the attack on the presidential plane. A few well-informed and prudent people wanted to bury this matter,” he added.

"We hope that, despite the obvious embarrassments which have surrounded this affair, justice will help to dispel the gray areas which persist in this quadruple homicide and on the possible French involvement in the attack of April 6, 1994", declare in the communiqué Mes Bernardini and Simon.