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UPDATED: 14:05, June 25, 2004
Rwandan PM irked by BBC coverage of genocide prisoners
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Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza strongly criticized the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for allowing Rwandan genocide convicts serving life sentencesin Mali to use the network's radio program to "mock" victims of their crimes back home, the state owned paper reported here Saturday.

"We are seriously concerned that some prisoners who even pleaded guilty as the masterminds of genocide can be given the opportunity to indulge in propaganda on an international radio," he said.

Makuza was referring to former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda, Obed Ruzindana and Omar Serushago, who were convicted ofgenocide and other crimes against humanity by the Arusha-based UN Tribunal.

Makuza said he acknowledges the rights of prisoners to minimum basics of life but wondered how inmates convicted of genocide could be allowed to exercise civil and political rights, moreover,over an international broadcaster.

"In fact I have instructed the information minister to notify BBC of our concerns," he said, adding that it was absurd the trio to be allowed to boast of comfortable prison conditions while their victims are still nursing physical and psychological wounds.

The BBC runs a regular weekend multi-lingual program on Africa,where the inmates were heard boasting of favorable prison conditions at their disposal.

The PM also lambasted the French government saying it had direct role in the 1994 genocide and is now desperately trying to conceal their crimes.

He dismissed claims by French judge Jean-Louis Brugiere, that the Rwanda Patriotic Front, then a rebel group led by President Kagame shot down the presidential jet carrying former presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, triggering a genocide in which over one million people were massacred.

"The French had direct role in training and arming several militias long before the plane crash and are now desperately trying to divert our attention," he said.

Diplomatic pundits have predicted that relations between Franceand Rwanda have deteriorated beyond repair.

Source: Xinhua

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