Dar es Salaam, February, 22, 2002 (FH) - Defence expert witness, Belgian Professor Filip Reyntjens told a Dar es Salaam court on Friday, considering the possible extradition of the former Rwanda army officer Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, that his name had not been mentioned anywhere in connection with the killings of a former Rwandan Prime Minister and 10 Belgium UN peacekeepers in April 1994 in Rwanda. Major Ntuyahaga is wanted by his government for his alleged involvement in the killings of the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwingiliyimana, and the soldiers who were part of the United Nations Assistant Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR).

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The killings took place one day after the death of the former Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Sylvestre Ntaryamira, in a plane crash on April 6, 1994, which sparked off the genocide in Rwanda in which over one million people were killed in three months, according to an official survey. Professor Reyntjens who is an expert in law and politics in the Great Lakes Region, said that despite the fact that he conducted extensive research into the events of that day, Major Ntuyahaga's name did not appear anywhere. He told the court presided over by the Principal Resident Magistrate at Kisutu that he had received information from various sources, including five surviving Ghanaian UN peacekeepers, an official report by a Belgian Commission of Enquiry and leaked government documents. "There were few names mentioned but not Major Ntuyahaga," he asserted. He said the Belgian soldiers were killed after Major Ntuyahaga had dropped them by mini bus at the military camp in Kigali. Initially there were fifteen soldiers including five from Ghana but the two groups were separated before the killings. Professor Reyntjens, who was being questioned by Major Ntuyahaga's Tanzanian co-defence counsel Professor Jwan Mwaikusa, also told the court that Mrs Uwingiliyimana was killed in or around her residence after she was discovered in her hiding place by some Rwandan soldiers. Asked by Professor Mwaikusa whether there was any investigation into the killings of President Habyarimana and the Prime Minister Uwingiliyimana, he said "neither the old nor the present regime has intentions of doing that". He said the justice systems in Rwanda were destroyed by the end of genocide in July 1994, and there are no guarantees of fair trials even for 125,000 genocide suspects currently languishing in Rwandan prisons. "Chances of fair trials in Rwanda are small," he said adding that if Major Ntuyahaga were to be sent back to Rwanda he would stay in custody for many more years awaiting trial. The witness concluded his testimony on Friday and the defence is expected to bring two more witnesses. The case was adjourned after cross examination by the prosecution led by State Attorney Monica Otaru. It will come for mention again on March 8, 2002. NI/JA/FH (NT-0222e)