Rwanda/France: Journalist Natacha Polony on trial for genocide denialism

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 17 December 2020 10:23

Natacha Polony
Natacha Polony, the editorial director of the French magazine Marianne has been referred to the criminal court of Paris. © Gilles ROLLE/REA

According to a court order dated December 11, Natacha Polony will be tried for "contesting the existence of a crime against humanity by word, writing, image or means of communication to the public by electronic means".

At issue were remarks made by the French journalist in March 2018 on the radio France Inter, where she was a editorialist at the time.

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Talking to the essayist and candidate for the European elections Raphael Glucksman, Natacha Polony gave a very personal view of the genocide perpetrated from April to July 1994 against the Tutsis of Rwanda.

Victims and executioners all the same

“It is necessary to look at what happened at that time, which is not at all a distinction between the bad guys and the good guys”, said Polony. “Unfortunately we are typically in the kind of case where we had bastards against other bastards […] That is to say, I think that there were not on one side the good guys and on the other side the bad guys in this story.”

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By equivocating around the victims and executioners of the genocide against the Tutsis, Natacha Polony attracted the wrath of the survivors’ association Ibuka France and the International League against Racism and Antisemitism (whose civil case was declared inadmissible for procedural reasons). According to these associations, the comments made on the France Inter radio station were akin to a “challenge to the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.”

Negationism denied

During the preliminary investigation, Natacha Polony “acknowledged having made the disputed remarks, but contested the meaning given by the civil party and stated that the program in question had been broadcast live,” adding that “her remarks were aimed at the leaders” but that “the genocide had indeed existed”.

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On December 11, 2020, Parisian judge Milca Michel-Gabriel nevertheless decided to refer the case to the criminal court.


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