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 Brussels, 28 May 2007 (FH) – The Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, in spite of having been cited by the Defence of Bernard Ntuyahaga, accused, before the Court of Assizes, the former Rwandan officer of having participated in the killing of the ten Belgian blue helmets in 1994 in Kigali.   Guy Verhofstadt was cited as a reporter and as the vice-President of a senatorial commission in 1997 which was in charge with investigating the responsibilities of Belgian political and military authorities during the genocide of 1994.   Mr. De Temmerman questioned the Prime Minister about the perpetrators of the attack of 6 April 1994 on the plane of President Juvénal Habyarimana on the eve of the genocide which caused between 800,000 and 1 million deaths.   According to him, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) of the current President Paul Kagame is the instigator of the attack, presented as the “trigger” of the genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda. “I have always said that if the blue helmets died, it’s due to the ones who shot and caused chaos in the country”, the lawyer explained.   “Saying that the one who shot is responsible for the death of the Blue helmets as well as for the genocide is a very short-sighted reasoning”, Mr. Verhofstadt answered. Concerning the attack, he recalled that the lead of the FPR was “one of the hypothesis, among other ones” examined by the Commission of the Senate.   The Prime Minister implicitly suspected Mr. De Temmerman of “negationism”: “This argument basically denies that the genocide had been prepared and planned, with the purchase of weapons, the mobilization of people, propaganda of media… There is a word for not accepting those facts”, he countered.   “If the death of the blue helmets is linked to the attack, it is due to the rumour that they participated in it: They were killed because of that”, the Prime Minister added.   Then he referred to testimonies included in the report of the Senate, according to which Bernard Ntuyahaga received orders to disarm the Blue helmets and to bring them to the military camp of Kigali, where he then incited soldiers to hang them, by presenting them as being responsible for the attack. “This is not hypothetical, it is a fact, from eye-witnesses”, Mr. Verhofstadt insisted.   Bernard Ntuyahaga always denied any responsibility in the death of the blue helmets. He just brought them to the camp after having perchance met them near the residence of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana they were in charge with escorting on 7 April morning.   The death of Belgian commando led to the retreat of the Belgian contingent, the most operational one of the UNMIAR. “If the blue helmets hadn’t been killed, I think we would have stayed and we could have saved a lot of people”, Mr. Verhofstadt said. In 2000, he had presented apologies to Rwanda “for the attitude of Belgium and the international community”.   Heard earlier that day, the Prime Minister at that time, Jean-Luc Dehaene, said that there was “no reason for Belgium to apologize”.   According to him, the responsibility for the Belgian retreat lies within the United Nations. “When the UN decided not to strengthen the UNMIAR’s mandate - which was already maladapted at that time - although we claim for it, we decided to withdraw our troops”, he stated, adding that: “I would have preferred that the international community, via the UN, presented apologies, rather than a small country which did what it could do”.   In accordance with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence at that time, Willy Claes and Léo Delcroix, he estimates that the information they had did not enable them to anticipate the organization and the later realization of a genocide: “The situation was very serious, but the genocide is an interpretation made afterwards”, Willy Claes holds. Mr. Clément, lawyer of the civil party, denounced a tranquilizing speech, full of self-satisfaction”.   On the contrary, Mr. Verhofstadt pointed out the “bad approaches and decisions” of the Belgian authorities which, according to him, conducted “lobbying” before the Security Council of the United Nations, in order to retreat after the death of the blue helmets. “But unfortunately, I don’t think that I would have taken a different decision at that time. That’s the terrible thing about politics: the possibility of committing such big mistakes”, he recognized.   BF/PB/CV  © Hirondelle News Agency