Rwanda fingered for war crimes

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Rwanda fingered for war crimes

CHRIS MCGREAL, LIZZY DAVIES AND XAN RICE - Sep 03 2010 06:00
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The United Nations has accused Rwanda of wholesale war crimes, including possibly genocide, during years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An unprecedented 600-page investigation by the UN high commissioner for human rights catalogues years of murder, rape and looting in a conflict in which hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.

A draft version of the report, revealed by the French daily newspaper, Le Monde, and expected to be published next month, says the abuses, over a period of seven years and two invasions by Rwanda, amount to "crimes against humanity, war crimes or even genocide" because the principal targets of the violence were Hutus, who were killed in their tens of thousands.

Among the accusations is that Rwandan forces and local allies rounded up hundreds of men, women and children at a time and butchered them with hoes and axes.

On other occasions Hutu refugees were bayoneted, burned alive or killed with hammer blows in large numbers.

It is the first time the UN has published such forthright allegations about Rwanda, a close ally of Britain and the United States.

The Rwandan government reacted angrily to the report this week, dismissing it as "amateurish" and "outrageous", after reportedly threatening to pull out of international peacekeeping missions in an attempt to press the UN not to publish it.

Rwanda's Tutsi leaders will be particularly uncomfortable with the accusation of genocide when they have long claimed the moral high ground for bringing to an end the 1994 genocide in their own country.

But the report was welcomed by human rights groups, which called for the prosecution of those ­responsible for war crimes.

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