Brussels, 14 june 2007 (FH) - Many Rwandan civil parties are represented in the trial of former Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, accused to have taken part in the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers and the Prime Minister in Kigali on 7 April 1994, but also to be implicated in the death of a certain number of Rwandan civilians.

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The interests of more than one hundred Rwandans are being defended by a score of lawyers in the trial that began on 19 April. Civil parties can be constituted at all times during the proceeding instructions on a simple declaration of their councils, recognized by the Court. Consequently, they can then take part in the proceedings.

Some of them, such as the close relations of Antoine Ntashamaje or Emmanuel Nkundabagenzi, are directly invested in the case: Bernard Ntuyahaga is accused of having taken part in their killings and those of their families, by soldiers, in the district of Kyovu in the days following 7 April.

But the high number of persons that are represented can be explained by the "open" character of the indictment. Bernard Ntuyahaga is indeed accused "of intentional ho­micide" in Kigali and Butare, between 6 April and 5 July 1994, "on an unspecified number of people not identified to date". This fact allows families of victims not named in the indictment to present themselves in order to put forward their interests.

Thus, Maurice and Honoré Magorane, son of an adviser of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, killed at the same time as her, constituted themselves as civil parties by Eric Gillet after having learned of the trial in the press. Their names had never been cited in the case. They testified Monday before the Crown Court.

The responsibility of each lawyer, in the closing arguments which will begin next week, will be to demonstrate a link between their clients and the charges against Major Ntuyahaga.

For the civil parties without a direct link to the charges - them being the majority -, it could be a question of pleading on their adhesion to a genocidary project of which they were the victims. "Bernard Ntuyahaga formed part of a genocidary structure; that appears clear to me that he has a responsibility, the more so as he was a senior officer forming part of the Command Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces ", explains, for example, Sarah Ubben.

Eric Gillet, who represented the Collective of the Civil Parties in the preceding trials of 2001 and 2005, does not reason differently: "I represent Rwandan victims which estimate themselves indirectly implicated by the murder of the UN peacekeepers, insofar as these murders were planned to allow for the genocide. The victims estimate that Bernard Ntuyahaga, while lending themselves to this plan, took part to injure them", he argued before trial.

There are also the "renown" civil parties, such as the former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, represented by Vincent Lurquin. Tageted, like Agathe Uwilingiyimana, as an opposition personality (MDR), he escaped, on 7 April 1994, an attempted murder by soldiers. To justify his presence, he explained Tuesday, in his testimony, that he recognized in Bernard Ntuyahaga, as an officer of the RAF, a responsibility in what nearly happened to him.

The Court will decide at the end of the proceedings on the relevance of these representations. In the event of a guilty verdict, the recognized victims will then be able to request at a civil level, after the criminal trials, damages.

But for Mugunga wa Ndoba, as for the majority of the Rwandan parties in the trial, this step would be especially symbolic: "the damages, do not interest me. I do not ask for anything. I want only that justice to be rendered"

© Hirondelle News Agency