Arusha, July 15, 2002 (FH) - A situation of collective madness or collective hysteria contributed to the events in Rwanda in 1994, an expert witness dealing with ethno-psychiatry Lucien Hounkpatin, on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Hounkpatin, of Benin and France on Monday started his testimony in the defence of one of three people accused of genocide crimes in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda former minister for Transport and Communications André Ntagerura.

1 min 48Approximate reading time

The witness is a professor at the Université VIII Saint Denis in Paris, France. The Cyangugu trial groups Ntagerura, ex- commander of the Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu Samuel Imanishimwe and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. Prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. Hounkpatin told the court that collective hysteria could lead to uncontrolled group action. He said that when a symbol in any state is destroyed however small the state might be, the situation may go out of control. In this case, he gave the example of the death of the two presidents of Burundi (Cyprien Ntyrimana) and Rwanda (Juvénal Habyarimana) whose plane was shot down in 1994. Hounkpatin also made reference to two Rwandan myths in his explanation of a theory on "human humanity or inhumanity". According to the expert, the transmission of these myths that feeds the Rwandan populations has a certain effect. He said they portray a situation of antagonism where only one of the social groups (in the country) appropriates power at a time and shares it to others and do not show all groups appropriating it then sharing. The prosecution had objected to Hounkpatin testifying as a psychiatrist saying he was not in a position to render a psychiatric analysis and that he was a psychologist. "We reiterate our objection to the qualification of this witness as a psychiatrist," prosecutor Richard Karegyesa of Uganda told the court. I am suggesting to you that you are not in a position to render a psychiatric opinion, any whether collective or individual," Karegyesa said. In response to questions by Ntagerura's defence, the witness said that one could be a psychologist and work in psychiatry. He was questioned by Ntagerura's co-counsel Hamuli Rety of France and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The defence produced documents including cards of identity of institutions in France where Hounkpatin has worked. In his testimony, Hounkaptin said he had met Rwandans during university students meetings and also as patient for treatment. He said that those he knew were reserved, discreet and showed that they had gone through trauma, which he attributed to the last events in their country (1994 massacres). The witness continues his testimony on Tuesday morning before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/FH (CY-0715e)