Arusha, 25 June 2008 (FH) - Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, former Commander of Rwandan Reconnaissance Battalion, called Wednesday for his defence before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) a war buddy who testified via videoconference from Cameroon. Designated by code name “Y1” to protect his identity, the witness, a former officer in the Rwandan army, stated that the defeat of the governmental forces was foreseeable after resumption of the hostilities on 7 April 1994.

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This date had been preceded by several months of calm after the signing, in August 1993, in Arusha, Tanzania, of the peace accords between the government and the rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), currently in power.
“Our weapons had worn out and had not been replaced; we had asked for the purchase of weapons and ammunition but the then minister of finance refused to carry out the orders on grounds that peace was in the course of being re-established”, said the former officer, currently in exile.
“We in the Rwandan army no longer underwent combat exercises”, added “Y1”, the second defence witness. Nzuwonemeye started his defence on Monday afternoon.
The senior officer in exile explained than the RPF had prepared for a long war whereas the governmental forces were busy preparing for implementation of the military aspects of the peace accords.
These texts envisaged , among others, the formation of a new national army composed of men from the two sides as well as the demobilization of soldiers from the Rwandan army and combatants from the RPF.
After the resumption of the hostilities, the officer said: “The situation was catastrophic for the Rwandan Armed Forces; we only experienced defeats; the Rwandan Armed Forces had difficulties in containing the RPF”.
The witness will continue his testimony on Thursday.
Major Nzuwonemeye is on trial alongside three other officers, including Major General Augustin Bizimungu, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army from April to July 1994.
Prosecuted for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, all four have pleaded not guilty.
Their trial began in September 2004