02.10.07 - ICTR/GOVERNEMENT II - FORMER MINISTER BICAMUMPAKA AFFIRMS TO HAVE PUSHED FOR DIALOGUE

   Arusha, 2 October 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jerome Bicamumpaka affirmed to have pushed for dialogue to solve Rwanda's problems in 1994, during his testimony Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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Indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity, Bicamumpaka, 50, is about to finish his testimony in his own defence that he started more than two weeks ago.
 
Bicamumpaka is on trial alongside three of his former colleagues in a trial which began on 6 November 2003. The four co-defendants have pled not guilty.
 
"I promoted political dialogue to solve the problems with which Rwanda was confronted with between April and July 1994", Bicamumpaka stated, questioned by his lawyer Michel Croteau (Canada).
 
Bicamumpaka filed into evidence many telegrams and documents that show his diplomatic steps, in particular towards France, to obtain a ceasefire with the former rebel movement currently in power in Kigali, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
 
The former minister went to Paris in April 1994 where he met with senior officials at the Elysée, Matignon and Quai d'Orsay. "I asked the French government to support us in this way (political dialogue)", he indicated.
 
Bicamumpaka explained why his intervention to France "was a peaceful action which aimed at returning normalcy to the country by way of negotiations".
 
He assured that the interim government aimed to set up transitional institutions to which the RPF was to be associated "and that within a six week timeframe".
 
The interim government to which he belonged had come into power on 8 April 1994.
 
Bicamumpaka indicated that he had asked France to use of its influence to convince Uganda to cease supporting the RPF militarily and "to render comprehensible with these people that peace was imperative".
 
The prosecutor alleges that the interim government planned and supervised the execution of the Tutsi genocide.
 
Bicamumpaka, for his part, affirms that his priority was the resumption of negotiations with the RPF in order to restore peace. He intends to call French senior officials to support his case.
 
Among his possible French witnesses are several diplomatic ambassadors and high ranking officials. The chamber requested the assistance, on this subject, of the French government.
 
Bicamumpaka is on trial alongside the former ministers Casimir Bizimungu (health), Justin Mugenzi (trade) and Prosper Mugiraneza (civil service). The proceedings are being held before a chamber presided by Pakistani Judge Khalida Rachid Khan.
 
She is assisted by Ghanaian Judge Emile Francis Short and Kenyan Judge Lee Gacuiga Muthoga.
 
Bicamumpaka is the third defendant in this trial to present his case after Mugenzi and Bizimungu. He plans to call around 25 defence witnesses.
 
AT/PB/MM
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