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French prosecutors say they haven’t found enough clear evidence to solve one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries: the identity of the attackers who assassinated the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi in 1994, igniting a genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people.

The prosecutors, in a 94-page report obtained by The Globe and Mail, have requested the dismissal of a criminal investigation against nine senior Rwandan officials and soldiers, including Defence Minister James Kabarebe, who were suspected of links to the assassination.

Their recommendation will now go to French investigative magistrates, who will decide whether to drop the charges or continue the investigation.

The genocide began within hours of the assassinations on April 6, 1994. Two missiles destroyed a presidential jet, killing Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira, seven other officials and a three-man French crew as they returned from peace talks. Most victims of the three-month genocide were Tutsi civilians, killed by Hutu extremists, although many Hutus were also killed.

For decades, the assassination has been surrounded by theories, investigations, allegations and counter-allegations. The government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said that the assassination was orchestrated by Hutu extremists who opposed a peace agreement. Others have alleged that a Tutsi-led rebel force, headed by Mr. Kagame, fired the missiles at the presidential jet to justify its own military offensive, which culminated in the rebels winning power. New information obtained by The Globe last week, suggested that Uganda had supplied the missiles to Mr. Kagame’s rebels.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame attends the 17th Francophone countries summit in Yerevan on Oct. 12, 2018.LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

France’s lengthy judicial investigation into the assassination has repeatedly led to tensions between Rwanda and France, including in 2016 when the investigation was reopened.

But France has moved to patch up its relationship with the Kagame government. Last week, France supported Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in her successful bid to defeat incumbent secretary-general and former Canadian governor-general Michaëlle Jean to become head of la Francophonie.

Philippe Meilhac, lawyer for the widows of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents who were killed in 1994, said the recommendation by the French prosecutors was clearly connected to France’s efforts to improve relations with Rwanda at la Francophonie and elsewhere. “It’s impossible not to link the two,” he told The Globe in an interview. “We clearly see politics in this request.”

French government officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In their report, dated Oct. 10, the French prosecutors cited many witnesses who said that Mr. Kagame’s rebels had fired the missiles to destroy the presidential plane. But the prosecutors said there was “insufficient evidence” to prove the allegation, including a lack of “irrefutable material evidence” such as flight and data recorders. Some witnesses retracted their statements or refused to repeat them, they said.

The prosecutors emphasized that their investigation was hampered because the political and security situation in Rwanda in 1994 was so “fluid, chaotic and difficult to apprehend.”

Two Soviet-made surface-to-air missile launchers, found in Kigali and suspected of being linked to the assassination, disappeared when they were being transported after the attack and could not be forensically analyzed by French investigators, the prosecutors said.

Last week, The Globe reported that a Belgian professor had discovered lists of the serial numbers of Soviet-made Ugandan missiles from the same series as those of the two missile launchers. Uganda was providing weaponry to Mr. Kagame’s rebel forces in the early 1990s, and its inventory lists showed that the missiles suspected of being involved in the Rwandan assassination were no longer present in the Ugandan arsenal. This suggested that Uganda had transferred those missiles to Mr. Kagame’s forces, according to University of Antwerp professor Filip Reyntjens, an expert on the Rwanda genocide.

The Globe has also reported that United Nations officials in neighbouring Congo discovered a missile launcher with a serial number from the same Ugandan missile series, recovered from a Rwandan-backed militia.

In their report, the French prosecutors said a French judge visited Moscow in 2002 and met a Russian military official who confirmed that the missile launchers found in Kigali had been manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1987 and sold to the Ugandan military. “During this meeting, the official said an official confirmation in writing would be sent to the French inquiry,” the report said. “However, no official written response was ever given.”

The serial numbers for the missiles, cited by the French prosecutors and confirmed by the Russian officials, came from the same series as that discovered by Mr. Reyntjens in the Ugandan inventory list.

The prosecutors, however, noted that there were contradictory claims about the site from which the missiles were fired, with some experts suggesting that the missiles were fired from a site near a Rwandan army barracks.

Emmanuel Bidanda, lawyer for the family of a French crewmen who died in the missile attack, said the families will now have until the end of November to respond to the request by the prosecutors for dismissal of the investigation. If the magistrates decide to dismiss the case, the families will launch an appeal, he said.

“The prosecutors are saying that after 20 years of investigation, French justice is not able to figure out who is guilty,” he told The Globe in an interview.

“And that is a significant failure. It’s a slap in the face.”