Arusha, 10 October 2007 (FH) - The executive committee of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the former single party, would have sanctioned violence and massacres committed by the Interahamwe militiamen in the 1990's, stated a witness Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   

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The protected witness "AWD" was called by the prosecutor in the Karemera et al. trial, which involves three former leaders of the MRND. Edouard Karemera was second vice president of the MRND and Minister of the Interior in the interim government in place during the Tutsi genocide of 1994. He is on trial alongside Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively president and secretary-general of the MRND in 1994.

With Ferdinand Kabagema, deceased, they formed the executive committee of the MRND, the directing body of the party. Former ambassador of Rwanda in Switzerland, Kabagema was first vice president.
"It is the executive committee of the MRND which controlled the activities of the Interahamwe", the witness declared, indicating that he was a member of the party. The Interahamwe militiamen are regarded as the executioners of the 1994 genocide.
The witness affirmed to have drawn the attention of Ngirumpatse to the assassinations and lootings which the Interahamwe were committing in Kigali between 1993 and 1994. Ngirumpatse would have answered to him that he did not have the right to interfere.
AWD reported that at a given time, Ngirumpatse would have informed him of the project to create "safe zones" in the neighbourhoods, which would be controlled by the Interahamwe who had received military training.
"It was a question of joining the forces to exterminate all Tutsis who had family in Kigali without difficulty", he underlined.
The witness pled that Karemera would have attended this interview which would have taken place in the residence of Ngirumpatse.
AWD also accused Ngirumpatse of having presided a meeting of his party in Kigali in January 1994 during which Interahamwe militiamen would have sung that they were going to exterminate Tutsis.
The cross-examination of the witness, which announces itself to be interesting, was deferred to 22 October.
The defence had denounced the late transfer of documents by the prosecutor, suggesting that it was a lack of respect towards the chamber.
"Tolerance has opened all possibilities to him", complained Chantal Hounkpatin (France), the main counsel of Ngirumpatse.
This trial began on 19 September 2005. The prosecutor should rest his case in March 2008.
© Hirondelle News Agency