27.06.07 - RWANDA/BELGIUM - NTUYAHAGA WAS THE "RIGHT-HAND MAN OF THE HABYARIMANA REGIME"

Brussels, 27 June 2007 (FH) - The former major Bernard Ntuyahaga, accused, notably, of having taken part in the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers on 7 April 1994, is the "link of a chain" made up of "four musketeers", stated during his closing arguments Vincent Lurquin before the Crown Court of Brussels.   
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"There are four musketeers: including Théoneste Bagosora, François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, Innocent Sagahutu and Bernard Ntuyahaga", enumerated Lurquin. "Bernard Ntuyahaga was not a weak link in this chain", he added.
 
For the counsel of the civil parties, who represents in particular Faustin Twagiramungu, former Prime Minister appointed by the Arusha peace accords, the former senior officer of the Rwandan Armed Forces went to seek the peacekeepers "on order" at the Prime Minister's residence, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, to disarm them. He then took them to the military camp of Kigali where they were lynched.
 
Among the charges against Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, presented as the "mastermind" of the genocide, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), figures the order to assassinate Agathe Uwilingiyimana and the peacekeepers charged with her protection. Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, former chief of the reconnaissance battalion based in the Kigali camp, and his deputy Captain Innocent Sagahutu would have taken part in the execution of these orders.
 
"He presents himself as someone without initiative and he would have embarked the UN peacekeepers by chance, without asking anything to anybody?" commented Mr. Lurquin by recalling that the defendant always denied to have received such directives. "Why tell us this tale? Perhaps because Bernard Ntuyahaga is precisely a true soldier, on whom one can count on, one of those who always say that they saw nothing and heard nothing"
 
"Right-hand man of the Habyarimana regime" according to Lurquin, the major, defended by Luc de Temmerman who was in the past the lawyer of Théoneste Bagosora, would thus have delivered an account allowing to dissimulate the fact that he received a mission. "If not, he should say to us who gave him this order", concluded Lurquin.
 
In his closing arguments of 30 May before the ICTR, Raphaël Constant stated that his client, Colonel Bagosora, did not have any connection to these murders.
 
Monday, Eric Gillet, counsel for the civil parties, reminded the jury that it would have been "more logical to have Bernard Ntuyahaga tried with Bagosora, Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu" before the ICTR.
 
He explained that the withdrawal by the ICTR of its indictment against Ntuyahaga, in 1999, had been a "elevator referral": Belgium, which "wanted a trial to re-appropriate the traumatism" of the dead UNAMIR soldiers, had indeed contributed to constitute a case against Colonel Bagosora before the ICTR seized of the case on the basis of its primacy of jurisdiction.
 
BF/AT
 
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