In a document given Thursday morning to Judge Andre Denis, Désiré Munyaneza and his lawyers recognize that "there were indeed war crimes, crime against humanity and genocide in Rwanda in 1994", stated to the Hirondelle Agency Richard Perras, one of the defendant's three lawyers.
Perras specified that this declaration did not mean that his client had participated in the exactions for which he has been tried for the last six months before the Superior Court of Quebec.
On Wednesday, during the cross-examination of the former UNAMIR commander, one of the three defence counsels had questioned the existence of a genocide in Rwanda. Mr. Cohen had stated that there would not have been a systematic extermination of Tutsis by Hutus, but rather a "defensive attitude" towards "a real threat" coming from the Tutsi rebels of the RPF
Cohen had stated to the press at the end of the hearing that "it was a precise legal definition, this trial is the first of its kind in the country and the distinctions are important in regards to the charges".
According to one of three Crown prosecutors, pleading for the prosecution, the recognition of the genocide changes the entire dynamic of the trial: "there was to be a whole saga which should have been argued but it is no longer necessary", Richard Roy stated to the Hirondelle Agency,
Roy, who refused to comment on the reasons for this decision, thinks that it will have "an influence on the dynamics of what follows: the Crown is going to refocus things on the participation of the defendant" in the events which are alleged to him.
A direct consequence of this announcement: the testimony of Andre Guichaoua (sociologist), one of the two expert witnesses who were to testify shortly in order to show the court that there had been a genocide, is cancelled.
As for Alison Des Forges, a historian emeritus, her testimony will be limited to a specific point: "on the qualification of the conflict between the Rwandan government and the RPF: was it a national armed conflict or an international armed conflict", specified Mr. Roy.
Thus, the prosecution case will be completed next Wednesday, and not more than two weeks later. This trial opened on 26 March.
© Hirondelle News Agency