Former French special forces operative Paul Barril is being investigated for his behind-the-scenes role in the 1994 genocide.
It has all the cliché hallmarks of a Hollywood-created conflict somewhere on the African continent, with European mercenaries and various corrupt businessmen stoking the coals of war. However, the 1994 Rwandan genocide was not a Hollywood tale. It was all-too real and left an estimated 800,000 dead.
According to a French news outlet, documents reveal that Paul Barril, a well-known figure in the annals of French special forces as a former leader of the country’s counter-terrorism and hostage-rescue force, actively supported the Hutu extremists responsible for the killing of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda’s implosion. The code name of his mission was, insidiously, “Insecticide.”
Currently, there is a push to hold Barril legally responsible for his role in fostering the genocide that ravaged Rwanda.
A French judge is investigating the incident that sparked the Rwandan genocide — the shooting down of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994, as his plane was descending into the capital of Kigali. The judge, Marc Trevidic, ordered Barril’s residence in Paris searched, which turned up some interesting information.
Barril now stands accused of “complicity in genocide,” with French investigators saying he helped provide weapons, ammunition, men and guidance in the 1994 massacre.
According to Rwandan Kennedy Ndahiro, executive editor for the Kigali-based daily newspaper The New Times, a correspondence titled “Urgent” was addressed to Capt. Paul Barril from Rwanda’s then Minister of Defence, Augustin Bizimana, as things were collapsing in Rwanda.
“Bizimana informed Barril that his country is in dire straits and seeks his professional services,” Ndahiro told MintPress on Tuesday. “He requested for various types of weapons as well as 1,000 mercenaries to help the interim government fight off the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) rebels as the execution of the genocide continued.”
The price tag was $3,130,000, Ndahiro said. The contract was signed on April 28, 1994, at the Rwandan embassy in Paris.
Rights groups have been pushing for years to have Barril brought to justice.
The International Federation for Human Rights denounced Barill, saying he “enjoyed long-standing privileged relations with the Rwandan authorities and was very familiar with the Rwandan geopolitical situation,” and further said that “he must have been aware of the consequences of an agreement that provided resources for the crimes committed in Rwanda during that period.”
According to other official documents, Ndahiro said, between May 9 and 13, 1994, Lt. Col. Ephraim Rwabalinda, a Rwandan liaison officer and advisor, met with Jean Pierre Huchon, France’s chief of military cooperation. This was as the genocide was still playing out in Rwanda.
An agreement was reached to supply the former government army with equipment, including a secure communication channel.
“But the carefully laid out plan came tumbling down when the U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo that France could not openly flout,” Ndahiro said, and a “second assistance contract to supply arms and 20 military specialists was signed between Barril and the then Rwandan Prime Minister in exile Jean Kambanda.”
Many observers believe Barril is being helped by elites in France.
Ndahiro said Barril still has powerful protectors whose real motives are to protect France’s image, because the French government is complicit, too.
“It was the first time that the French were thwarted in what they regarded as their home turf, Francophone country, and to make matters worse, it was the work of a rebel group led by Anglophones,” he said, referring to how the RPF was a Tutsi-led rebel movement that spoke English, unlike the Hutus who spoke French. (After the brutal 100-day genocide, when Rwanda’s then-ruling Hutu majority massacred about 800,000 minority Tutsis, the Hutus guilty of the genocide fled into neighboring Congo, then Zaire. The RPF were led by Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s current leader, who speaks English.)
“Capt. Barril has dark secrets of having been the errand boy of the French intelligence services’ covert actions for years.” Ndahiro continued. “Some analysts are of the view that the ongoing trial in France of former Rwandan intelligence chief Capt. Pascal Simbikangwa — the first trial after 20 years of genocidaire suspects holed up in France, might open Pandora’s Box. Barril and his superiors should have much to fear now.”
After his military career ended under the administration of François Mitterrand, Barril created the company Epsylon. He allegedly also runs a company called SECRETS (“Société d’Etudes de Conception et de Réalisation d’Equipements Techniques de Sécurité” or “Society for Study, Design and Implementation of Technical Security Equipment”), which currently offers security interventions in foreign countries.
It’s believed that Barril is currently staying in New York’s Plaza Athénée hotel. Trévidic is still waiting on a past passport that he ordered Barril to produce that would prove where he was in April 1994. It may be a futile attempt by the judge to hold Barril accountable, if Barril’s past benefactors and current protectors can keep the wolves at bay.
In the end, however, everybody wants to know: where was Barril the night the plane was shot down in Kigali? He has claimed in his memoirs that he was “lost” that night in the African bush, but that’s awfully shaky and only serves to fuel the conspiracy that he was the maestro to one of the worst tragedies in human history.
A call placed with personnel at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C. for comment about the Barril case was not returned before the deadline of this story.