31.05.07 - RWANDA/BELGIUM - NTUYAHAGA: TESTIMONY OF THE GHANAIAN PEACEKEEPERS

Brussels, 31 May 2007 (FH) - Two former Ghanaian peacekeepers testified at the Crown Court of Brussels to confirm that they had been held prisoner on 7 April 1994 at the residence of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana with the ten Belgian peacekeepers before being taken to the Kigali camp where the latter were killed.   
2 min 52Approximate reading time

Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, accused of the killings of the ten Belgian peacekeepers, always said to have embarked the fifteen UN peacekeeping force by chance on a crossroads near Agathe Uwilingiyimana's residence after they had signalled him.
 
"Around 7:15 am, the residence was encircled by the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). They entered and ordered us to drop our weapons before leading us all to a bus which waited at the exit ", stated Corporal Kwesi Doe. The two soldiers, with sometimes confusing testimonies, were posted with three other Ghanaian peacekeepers to protect the Prime Minister.
 
The ten Belgians had presented themselves in his opinion two hours and half beforehand at the residence to escort Agathe Uwilingiyimana to the radio station. As of their arrival, they had faced shooting and had sheltered themselves in the house. The two witnesses reported that the Belgians would not have returned in contact with the Prime Minister, as opposed to what the radio communications of the soldiers announced. She fled thereafter to a neighbouring house where she would be discovered by Rwandan soldiers and killed.
 
According to Corporal Sandow Zambulugu, there was in this bus "the driver, a man at his side and an armed soldier". He did not identify this man as being Bernard Ntuyahaga, nor even as an officer because "he did not have a uniform", he specified. Kwesi Doe remembers on the contrary "an officer". They would have been led to the bus "hands in the air", at gun point.
 
"The soldiers said that they were leading us towards their training camp, a safe place", continued Corporal Doe. "But I did not think that it was a safe place: we were prisoners of war and I did not believe that this officer was getting us out of a difficult situation ", he added. The house of Agathe Uwilingiyimana was indeed attacked by the soldiers of the FAR, attested Corporal Zambulugu.
 
With their arrival at the military camp of Kigali, the officer present in the bus, according to Doe, or a soldier from the camp, according to Zambulugu, ordered them to sit down on the ground "in a line". "Those of the bus left the area and the other soldiers started to torture us", said Zambulugu. According to Doe, "the officer who brought us did not seem concerned. They dropped us off and the bus set out again. I do not know if this officer also left or stayed behind".
 
To the pleas of the UN military observer Apedo Kodjo, posted to this camp, 11 peacekeepers managed to return in his quarters; four Belgians remained, "collapsed on the ground, bleeding profusely".
 
Apedo would then have tried to prevent the soldiers of the FAR, which had meanwhile started to fire on the quarters, from entering, "but they were so many that he could not. They struck him and forced him to leave ", according to Doe."They entered, we realized that we were facing death. A Belgian was killed by gunshot at this moment ", he continued, by a soldier in wheelchair, according to Zambulugu, which would attest to the presence of war wounded among the attackers of the soldiers. He specified that an officer with "many decorations" tried to stop them, in vain.
 
The two Ghanaians then reported to be extracted by a window with their three comrades in arms by soldiers of the FAR. "I do not know why us and not the Belgians", Doe said. They were escorted with Apedo towards the neighbouring Military College, from where they heard many shoots, "of heavy and light weapons", coming from the camp. "When that was heard, we knew that nobody would survive", concluded Zambulugu.
 
General Romeo Dallaire, head of UNAMIR, that they cross at the Military College, will have had them thereafter evacuated towards the HQ of the UN force.
 
In addition, on Wednesday morning, in a press conference, the families and their lawyers regretted the excuses of Dallaire, which they describe as "cowardice": he still has not giving an answer to testify by videoconference before the Crown Court.

BF/PB/MM  
© Hirondelle News Agency