08.06.07 - RWANDA/BELGIUM - NTUYAHAGA WOULD HAVE CLEARLY PARTICIPATED IN THE MASSACRES (WITNESS)

Brussels, 8 June 2007 (FH) - The former major of the RAF Bernard Ntuyahaga would have ordered and carried out slaughters at a road block in Kigali on 9 April 1994, according to a witness who managed to escape.

 

2 min 14Approximate reading time

 
Bernard Ntuyahaga is accused by Belgian justice of have taken part in the killing of ten Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers, Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and a certain number of Rwandan civilians in Kigali and Butare.
 
Richard Nizeyimana explained that the minibus, where he was in with his cousin and a friend, had been stopped at a road block held by the Interahamwe in the district of Gitega. Bernard Ntuyahaga would then have arrived in a pick-up with soldiers. He would have ordered to the militiamen holding the road block to shoot all the passengers, fifteen, after having had them get out of their vehicules. "I survived only because I pretended I was died under the body of my cousin", he explained.
 
Claire Kayitesi, the friend of his cousin, would have been the mistress of the major; she would have initially stated when seeing him: "Look, we are saved, it's Ntuyahaga!" She would have asked Ntuyahaga if he recognized her; he would have answered yes, by adding that she was only a inyenzi ("cockroach", nickname allotted to the members of the Rwandan Patriotic Face) and that Tutsis were to pay for the death of President Habyarimana, killed in an attack against his plane three days before.
 
After having made the passengers get out of their vehicules, the officer of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) would have asked the militiamen at the road block to "work quickly, but not on the road".
 
According to Richard Nizeyimana, in a first version of his statement, Claire Kayitesi would have then run towards Ntuyahaga to beg him to save them and he would have shoot her in the head before ordering the militiamen to shoot the other passenger. "I just saw Ntuyahaga point the barel of his gun towards her and I am no longer sure that is the one that killed her because the militiamen were shooting at everything", he rectify in session on Thursday. He does not state to have heard him say: "Now, the Tutsis are finished", before shooting her.
 
Two other Interahamwe, who transported the victims in this minibus towards Nyanza in exchange of money, would also have been shot.
 
To the question of the Chamber President: "Do you recognize in the box the man whom you saw at this road block? ", the witness answered in the affirmative.

 
Another survivor of this massacre, Claire Uwimana, who lives in the United States, refused to answer questions when instructed.
 
"This testimony is without comment. The attitude of Bernard Ntuyahaga was coherent, completely in line with what was done during the genocide: soldiers who gave orders to the militiamen at road blocks; or killed a friend because there were Tutsi ", commented Eric Gillet, counsel for the civil parties.
 
Luc de Temmerman, the council of the defendant, demonstrated that the testimony of Richard Nizeyimana, student in 1994, was collected for the first time in 1999 by the association of Rwandan survivors Ibuka, he qualified this organization as a "factory of witnesses".
 
The trial of the former Rwandan officer opened on 19 April. The Crown Court is on the point of starting its last week of testimonies, after which it will hear closing arguments. The verdict should be rendered towards the end of the month.
 
BF/PB/MM
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