Brussels, 29 May 2007 (FH) – “Provocative”, that is how Luc de Temmerman, the counsel for the former Rwandan officer Bernard Ntuyahaga, on trial since 19 April before the Crown Court of Brussels for the killings of 10 peacekeepers in Kigali, is most often described. Not very concerned with covenants, able to be impose himself on the Court without shame; the Flemish lawyer, fair, imposing, raspy voice, is disturbing. Interrupting the witnesses or the President, scoffing at his fellow civil action colleagues ("You are only here for the attention and the cameras", he said to them), he is in responsible for many incidents that astonished the audiences. The families of the killed peacekeepers, are shocked by his way of flattering Bernard Ntuyahaga. For the brother of one of the victims, Luc de Temmerman is "doing his show". His defense method adds to these reactions. Aggressive - and political, in a case which the Fleming considers "manipulated". He disputes the conditional instructions of Judge Damien Vandermeersch, challenges the writings of certain journalists such as Colette Braeckman, "a novelist", criticizes the organization of the sessions and questions the capacity (even will) of the prosecutor to call witnesses useful to his defense. A hard line that is necessary, according to him, "to ensure a fair trial for [his] client". Luc de Temmerman has for long been implicated in cases which relate to the Rwandan genocide. At the beginning of the nineties, he managed interests of President Juvénal Habyarimana’s family and of his close acquaintances. The majority of the members of his inner circle will thereafter be accused of organizing the 1994 genocide. "I was the one that knew everyone in Rwanda", he likes to say. Strong on his laurels, he was at one time the lawyer for Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, one of the most important accused of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He is also the counsel in Belgium of Agathe Kanziga, widow of President Habyarimana, who died in the attack against his plane on 6 April 1994, and suspected of participating in the genocide. In 1997, at the beginning of the ICTR, he tried to mobilize lawyers around a project of "common defense". Initially chosen by one of the defendants, George Rutaganda, he ended up withdrawing, fault of agreement with his customer. The Tribunal quickly removed the right for him to litigate in Arusha. Since the beginning of the trial of Ntuyahaga, the case which he has been following since 1995, de Temmerman was on several occasions suspected, in session (notably by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt) and in the press, of négationnisme. "I am not a negationnist, I am not a fascist, I never called into question the genocide", he declared to the Tribunal, also refuting rumours saying he has allegiances to the Vlaams Belang, a Flemish extreme-right party Certain "provocations" of deTemmerman remain, nonetheless, ambiguous. Maxime Steinberg, Shoah historian, who evoked in particular works of Alison des Forges, he asked: "I suppose that you are a Jew? No problem, I do not have a problem with the Jews... And Madam des Forges, I do not know... Is she Jewish? " Notwithstanding, Luc de Temmerman repeated to want "to call into question the official version of the genocide" which exclusively shows Hutu extremists responsible for the organization and the carrying out of the genocide, for him this version is fiction of "people from certain milieu". From where his insistence to put at the heart of the debates the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana; attributed more and more to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) and to its President Paul Kagame, the current Head of the Rwandan State. According to him, "the facts are there: the one that attacked the plane is responsible for death of the UN peacekeepers, of Agathe Uwilingiyimana [Prime Minister] and of millions of people"
A "logical" sequence that would help to clear Bernard Ntuyahaga, former officer of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). BF/PB/MM © Hirondelle News Agency