Arusha, February 4, 2002 (FH) - There was never a plan in the run up to the 1994 Rwanda genocide to eliminate all Tutsis, former Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu told the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. Twagiramungu is the first defence witness in the genocide trial of Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerald.

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However, Twagiramungu said that there could have been a "contingency plan" or "preparation" to kill not only Tutsis but also Hutus opposed to the government. He said it was a fact that Interahamwe Hutu militia had been armed and trained, and that media such as RTLM radio were used to broadcast hate propaganda. But, he said, "if there has been preparation of massacres, they were not directed only to Tutsis". Twagiramungu was speaking under cross-questioning by the prosecution. He earlier told the court that he believed the April 6th 1994 downing of former president Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was the trigger for the April to July killing spree. Twagiramungu said he suspected that the pro-Tutsi RPF might have shot down the plane, and not extremists within Habyarimana's entourage, because of their reactions in the immediate aftermath. He said that when he called them for confirmation of the plane crash, they had fled their homes in fear, rather than stepping in to take over as he expected. "The people who shot down the plane are not the ones we think," he told the court. The witness was leader of the opposition MDR party and Prime Minister designate under the August 1993 Arusha peace accords. However, he only became Prime Minister when the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took power in July 1994, ending the genocide. He resigned from that government and fled into exile in August 1995, after denouncing army atrocities against civilians. Twagiramungu said there were many examples of where RPF soldiers had committed killings and massacres of Hutu civilians, during the genocide but especially afterwards. He said that as Prime Minister he had called for international investigations, but his calls had gone unheeded. Defending the PastorTwagiramungu also told the court he did not believe that Pastor Ntakirutimana or any of his sons could have participated in the genocide, given their good character. "I can't believe that old man has taken a machete, a hoe or a Kalashinkov or sat down to say 'let us make a plan to kill Tutsis'," he said. The witness said he knew the Pastor and some of his children, although he did not know Gerald personally. Twagiramungu said, however, that by "leaving the US after school to come and be a doctor in the bush in Kibuye", Gerald had made a "sacrifice" that showed how much he loved his country. "But now he is here," Twagiramungu continued. "That is the drama of Rwanda. "The witness said that the churches in Rwanda had played an important role in pressing for democracy before the genocide. He said that all churches, including the Seventh Day Adventist church, had set up a committee called "contact committee", aimed at bringing peace between warring parties. The prosecution maintains that churches in Rwanda actively participated in the planning and execution of the genocide. " There could be isolated cases of church leaders that were involved in the genocide," said Twagiramungu, " but these shouldn't change the undertakingof the churches in Rwanda. "GG/JC/FH (NK-0204f)