21.09.07 - ICTR/BUTARE - CIVIL SERVANTS WERE NOT IN POSITION TO LEAVE THEIR FUNCTIONS (REYNTJENS)

Arusha, 21 September 2007 (FH) - Rwandan civil servants in disagreement with the policy that led to the genocide were not in any position to leave their functions, explained Friday to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian historian specializing in Rwanda.   
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Questioned in connection with Joseph Kanyabashi, the mayor of Ngoma (Butare prefecture), for who he came to testify for, Reyntjens explained why civil servants could not give up their posts without risking their lives.
 
He said that Enoch Ruhigira, the former director of the cabinet of the president of the Republic, had tried to refuse retaking his post at the time of a government change and that that had been refused to him. He had then taken refuge at his neighbour's residence, the ambassador of Belgium, and that the ambassador was able to get him out of the country secretly.
 
"Kanyabashi, explained Reyntjens, did not have as a neighbour the ambassador of Belgium, he did not have soldiers or a Belgian plane to flee to Kenya, if he had tried to flee to the Burundian border he would have been killed before arriving there". "He could not flee because that would have been to express a dissension with what was going to happen" he added.
 
The Rwandan genocide, which lasted from 7 April to 4 July 1994, resulted in the death of 800 000 people from the Tutsi community and among moderate Hutus. Kanyabashi is on trial in the trial known as Butare alongside a minister, his son, two prefects and two mayors.
 
This trial began on 6 June 2001. Kanyabashi is the second to last defendant to present his case. He has been detained since 1995.
 
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