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 Arusha, 29 May 2007 (FH) - General Gratien Kabiligi did not partake in the agreement in order to commit the genocide, pled his lawyer on Tuesday in front of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (TPIR).   "There is no proof that General Kabiligi took part in the agreement with anyone, that he was a party in a plan, that he gave an order to whoever to kill Tutsis", declared to Paul Skolnik, the principal lawyer of the Rwandan officer, during his opening arguments.   Kabiligi, 56 years of age, was responsible for the military operations of the Defense Staff of the former Rwandan army in 1994. He is being tried with three other officers for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. All have pleaded not guilty.   In the Prosecution’s opening arguments, the Prosecutor of the ICTR, Hassan Bubacar Jallow (Gambia) had alleged that Kabiligi and his co-defendants had "prepared, planned, ordered, directed, incited, encouraged and approved the murder of innocent civilian tutsis; men, women, children and others considered to be accomplices".   Mr. Skolnik, who was the first defense attorney to express himself, indicated that "all that Jallow said did not apply to Kabiligi". According to the Canadian lawyer, the Prosecutor "tries to put everyone in the same basket". "Kabiligi was not an extremist. He was for peace. He was in favour of the Arusha peace agreement", stated Skolnik.   The lawyer based himself on several witnesses that described his client as "a beautiful person", who "did not have anti-tutsi feelings"   According to them, Kabiligi did not have a dominant political view. He was not member of "the akazu" (small house in kinyarwanda), a circle of close relations of the former President that is alleged to have planned the Tutsi genocide.   Among these witnesses appears Belgian professor Filip Reytnjens, a renowned expert of Rwanda and its region, who was called as an expert by the prosecution in this trial that has been in progress since 2 April 2002.   "Kabiligi was not one of the planners or one of the executers of the massacres", indicated Skonlik in quoting the deposition of Filip Reyntjens.   The expert had also explained that the defendant could by no means be associated to the strategies worked out around President Habyarimana and of his inner circle   Skolnik also proudly evoked an alibi provided to his client by Colonel Luc Marchal, who commanded the Belgian battalion within the U.N. force present in Rwanda in 1994. Luc Marchal contradicted the declaration of a witness for the prosecution according to which Kabiligi would have organized a meeting for the planning of the genocide in Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) in the morning of 15 February 1994, affirming that they were together in Kigali that same day.   Luc Marchal declared that he would not have come to testify in favour of Kabiligi if he had the least suspicion than he had taken part in the genocide "He lost ten men in Rwanda and in spite of that he came to testify with passion for Kabiligi because he was conscious of his innocence", pled Skolnik.   The lawyer refuted the allegations of responsibility against Kabiligi as a ranking senior officer, stating that they were also quite unfounded. "He did not kill anybody in Rwanda. He did not pose any criminal act. The only way of condemning him is to allege that he had command whereas he did not have subordinates ", estimated Skolnik.   The lawyer indicated that his client was "an administrative officer, who prepared the plans and advised the Chief of Defense Staff". He did not have troops under his command, he underlined.   Kabiligi’s attorney has, on this subject, challenged the quality of the witnesses produced by the prosecutor for this purpose. Basing himself on jurisprudence of the UN Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he explained why "one cannot prove the responsibility for senior officers through a simple soldier". "A simple soldier, without grade, cannot give elements of proof on the responsibility for senior officers", underlined Skolnik.   The defense, generally, brings up that the highest ranking soldier called by the Prosecutor in this trial had the rank of lieutenant whereas the defendants are a general, colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors and captains, for both Rwandans as foreigners.   One of the teams had even requested to call General Marcel Gatsinzi, the current Rwandan Minister of Defense, but the Chamber did not grant that request. The applicants estimated that the judges had "resigned" on this point.   Skolnik also criticized the Prosecutor for not having called a military expert, explaining "why he could not find any credible expert to support his theory".   The defense, for its part, called Jacques Duvivier, a retired Belgian lieutenant-colonel, who called to mind attributions of a chief of military operations to the Defense Staff.   The co-council of Kabiligi, Frederic Hivon (Canada), primarily analyzed documents prepared by the former Rwandan Armed Forces in their exile in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He in particular harnessed himself to dismount the theory of the Prosecutor according to whom "the soldiers, and not the government, controlled the population" and had ascended on the civil militia before, during and after the genocide.   General Kabiligi is on trial with the former cabinet director of the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the former military commander of Gisenyi (western Rwanda), Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and the former paracommando battalion commander, Major Aloys Ntabakuze. The team of Bagosora spoke after that of Kabiligi, who requested that he be acquitted on all ten counts of the indictment that weighs against him.   The defense’s closing arguments should continue until Friday.   AT/PB © Agence Hirondelle