2 min 38Approximate reading time

 Brussels, April 20, 2007 (FH) – “Belgian paras: the moment of truth” on the front-page of La Libre Belgique; “Sheds light on the death of ten Belgian Blue Helmets,” Le Soir writes in opening: the two principal Francophone dailies which have covered the trial stressed on the unknowns which still surround, 13 years after the acts, the assassination of ten Belgian soldiers from the UNMINAR at Camp Kigali on April 7, 1994.   The journalist Colette Braeckman, in an editorial in Soir, asks, “Doubt returns: what do we know about the Rwandan tragedy? Too much? Too little? Or still nothing?  The string of horrors continues to defy comprehension, and the families of the ten Belgian paramilitaries still do not understand for what State reason these peacekeepers were sacrificed.”   As a result, if the trial can clarify for the families of the paras the circumstances of the death of their relatives, “it will be hard to avoid the economy of an investigation of the responsibilities of military and political figures, Belgian or foreigners, in this tragedy,” La Libre Belgique writes, especially because “since the work of the parliamentary investigatory commission (1997), new elements demonstrating the preparations for the genocide and the threats which weighed on the Belgian soldiers were in place at the time.”   One of the issues of the debates, according to Gerald Papy in Libre Belgique, will be that of knowing whether “the assassination of the Bleu Helmets (was part) of a plan to aid in the preparation of the genocide,” these deaths causing the withdrawal of Belgium’s contingent in UNMINAR, which observers have claimed could have prevented the killings.  The hearings will in this manner weigh on the elements of these “three days which would change history,” then, beyond that, predicts Colette Braeckman, “the trial will take the jury on even more uncertain terrain: the Blue Helmets’ mission in Akagera park, still controversial, and the figures allegedly responsible for the bombing against the presidential plane, the act which sparked the massacres which had long been planned.”   The press also discussed the personality of the defendant, the official in charge of logistics in Camp Kigali, presented as a “model officer, a jovial man” (La Libre Belgique).  “Bernard Ntuyahaga has not been presented as an organizer of these killings, but actually as a man who was on the ground, in contact with the Belgians.  Was he executing superior orders? From whom? Was he himself spreading anti-Belgian rumors?” (Le Soir) “The families hope that the Rwandan major “will spill his story.” (La Libre Belgique).   The defense’s version is recalled, which alleges to the contrary that “Ntuyahaga helped the Belgians within the measure of his possibilities” and “that he has nothing to do with the disarmament of the Belgian soldiers at the Prime Minister’s home: nor with the assassination and even less with the murders in the district” (Le Soir) – the Rwandan officer being equally accused of the murder of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and of several other murders of Rwandans in Kigali and Butare.   If the journalists focus on the Belgian victims, La Libre Belgique recalls that “there are also Rwandan victims in the file.”  Other than the families of the victims, survivors of the genocide, civil parties allege that “the withdrawal of UNMINAR left them to the mercy of their executioners.  At this heading, Major Ntuyahaga (…) lending a strong hand, they say, at the elimination of the Belgian Blue Helmets, is responsible for what happened to them.”  And the daily concludes, “This decisively unconventional trial will have many twists and surprises in store.”  Colette Bracekman hopes for her part that “for the families of the Blue Helmets as well as for the survivors, this last investigation of the truth (should) if it is well conducted, otherwise lead to the calming at the least of the long grieving process.”   BF/PB/KD  © Hirondelle News Agency