Brussels, 26 May 2007 (FH) – The parties in the trial of Major Bernard Ntuyahaga expressed their concerns after a witness was suspected of perjured themselves before the Crown Court.
"A first witness asks that his name not be mentioned in the Rwandan media; a second comes to tell lies, without speaking about another [Laurent Nubaha] who died after having changed his statement: I find that worrying ", declared Luc Walleyn.
Gendarmes assigned to the protection of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana had come to report the hours preceding her assassination on 7 April 1994 by members of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). Several attended the disarmament of the fifteen U. N. peacekeepers who were to escort Agathe Uwilingiyimana from her residence of Kyovu to the radio station, instead of that they were taken by Bernard Ntuyahaga to the military camp of Kigali where ten of them, the Belgians, were killed.
A first witness, G G, had asked the court after his testimony that his name not be retransmitted by the BBC in kinyarwanda for "safety reasons".
In a statement to the judge, another witness, Gervais Munyankumburwa, brought back the remarks of Mamerte Uwilingiyimana, also a gendarme. He would have said that Bernard Ntuyahaga directed the military operations in the district of Kyovu where the Prime Minister lived and he would have stated to him in a café that the gendarmes like him, assigned to the protection of a "political opposition accessory" of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), were "collaborators".
Bernard Ntuyahaga is accused of having taken part in the assassination of Agathe Uwilingiyimana and of the ten U. N. peacekeepers.
Before the court, Munyankumburwa reconsidered his statements, astonishing the Court by estimating that it was in fact " another Ntuyahaga, major of the FAR like him" and owner of a café in Kigali. Questioned on these changes, the witness confused himself, mentioning problems of translation. Mr. Walleyn asked whether he had undergone "pressures or threats", to which he denied.
For Mr. De Temmerman, lawyer of Mr. Ntuyahaga, this testimony corroborates his suspicions of "manipulation" of the case. "We have known for a long time that there is a Major Théoneste Ntuyahaga originating from Gisenyi. The witness is the only one saying that Bernard Ntuyahaga organized with Nzuwonemeye [commander of the recognition battalion RECCE of the Kigali camp, accused at the ICTR] these operations. G. said that he did not see Ntuyahaga at the Prime Minister’s, and Munyankumburwa does nothing but say: "I heard that..." "the prosecutor estimated that these charges of manipulation were" serious and pernicious ".
"The negationnist theses circulate on the internet and in certain Rwandan media, and one can understand that certain witnesses are afraid", estimated Laurent Kenes, lawyer of the families of the Belgian soldiers.
President Karine Gérard pointed out that although she can carry out arrests for perjury, she preferred to refer to the "sagacity" of the parties and of the jury, on fears that the trial loses its course.
© Hirondelle News Agency