Brussels, 26 June 2007 (FH) - The first arguments of the civil parties in the trial of Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, accused of the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers in Kigali on 7 April 1994, addressed the denial strategy of the defense.

2 min 56Approximate reading time

"The defense is not here to defend Bernard Ntuyahaga, but to defend the "Hutu cause before the court of history", stated Marc Uyttendaele, first of three lawyers of the families of the Belgian soldiers to intervene.

"Its ultimate goal is to rewrite this history by denying the genocide of Tutsis; it was always a question of politics while speaking about all, except about what occurred on the ground ", he explained. He introduced Luc de Temmerman as "a long time militant of the Hutu cause".

He, in particular, presented extracts of a book of the journalist Thierry Cruvellier, "Le Tribunal des vaincus" (2006), which commented on the defense options of de Temmerman in the Rwandan cases at the beginnings of the ICTR.

Marc Uyttendaele pointed out that the question of the authors of the 6 April 1994 attack, against the plane of President Juvénal Habyarimana, which de Temmerman wanted to place at the heart of the debates, "did not have any interest within the framework of this trial".

This attack is commonly presented as the "trigger" of the genocide. De Temmerman on several occasions argued, throughout the sessions, that the persons responsible for the attack were also responsible for the deaths of the peacekeepers and for the genocide, suggesting the implication of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) of current President Paul Kagame, without presenting evidence.

"If crimes against humanity were to be allotted to the RPF, that would not constitute in any event an extenuating circumstance for those responsible for the genocide", continued Uyttendaele.

"The reasoning allotting to the RPF the responsibility for the genocide raises of logic based on denial", considered Eric Gillet, who represents members of the family of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana assassinated the same day as the UN peacekeeping force.

"Isn't this strategy of the defense the first evidence of the implication of Bernard Ntuyahaga in what is charged against him?", questioned Laurent Kennes. "The defense has explained why nobody among the RPF has responsibility, that everyone was overwhelmed: it is always the fault of others - of the Arusha Agreements, of the RPF... before, during and after the genocide".

However, "the characteristic of a genocide, it is to achieve itself while being disputed", he stated.

He raised the point that the version of the facts supported by Bernard Ntuyahaga appeared for the first time in a letter addressed by Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, 18 October 1994, to the Belgian military auditor Nicolas Van Winsen at the time of his investigation, by the means of his lawyer of the time, Luc de Temmerman.

Colonel Bagosora, whose trial is in process before the ICTR, is introduced as the "mastermind" of the genocide; among his counts of indictment appears, among others, the order to kill the ten UN peacekeepers.

What makes Mr. Kennes say that "Bernard Ntuyahaga does not do anything other than follow orders from his superior Bagosora; he even went as far as requesting the same services of the same lawyer, Luc de Temmerman, whose defense strategy is to deny the implication of the members of former regime in the genocide "

"Ntuyahaga could have said: there is a genocide, but I did not take part in it. He decided on another path; it cannot be interpreted without acknowledging his participation in the genocide ", he concluded, underlining the silence of the accused as for the existence of a genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Eric Gillet, pointing out the remarks repeated by the defense: "This genocide is rubbish". He insisted on the "complexity of genocides", where "all the roles are necessary", where "the individual is a link in the chain of the crime, which makes this person anonymous. It is the difficulty of these trials: the strategy of the genocide defendants and, notably, Bernard Ntuyahaga consists in saying that there would have been massacres, but not murderers: it is the dream of every "génocidaire".

Anne-Emmanuelle Bourgaux lengthily returned on the "improbabilities" of the defendant's account of the events; which proves, according to her, that "Bernard Ntuyahaga lied to us".

The arguments should last all the week; the closing arguments of the Prosecutor are planned for Friday and those of the defense should begin next week.

© Hirondelle News Agency