11.10.07 - RWANDA/CANADA - MUNYANEZA TRIAL: ALISON DES FORGES ENDS THE PROSECUTION'S CASE

Montreal, 11 October 2007 (FH) - "For certain important parties, it could have been embarrassing if the persons responsible for the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana were identified", declared Wednesday Alison Des Forges, the final witness to testify for the prosecution in the Munyaneza trial.   
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Called to testify as an "expert witness", the American historian debated on the murky events that still surround the assassination of the former Rwandan president, Juvénal Habyarimana, on 6 April 1994. Mrs. Des Forges stated to the Superior Court of Quebec that "many people" were interested in killing the president. "Motivations existed from various places", she added.
 
The former Yale and Berkeley professor has published many works on the Rwandan genocide and has been to the Great Lakes region nearly thirty times. Since 1994, Alison Des Forges has worked as a consultant for the NGO Human Rights Watch, "because I had friends on both sides at the time of the genocide", she explained to Judge André Denis.
 
"The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR, based in Arusha, Tanzania) should have dug further into the question: Did, according to experts of international law, the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana constitute a violation of the laws of war?" ", explained Mrs. Des Forges.
 
Questioned by the media at her exit from the courtroom, the historian said that it was regrettable that no investigation has yet been carried out on this legal point. Mrs. Des Forges also deplored that "the investigation of Judge Brugière did not go in this direction and took, unfortunately, a very political turn".
 
In November 2006, French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere accused the current Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, of having directed the attack of 6 April 1994. Since the publication of this report, the diplomatic relations between Kigali and Paris have been completely broken.
 
"That did not help us to find out more", estimated Alison Des Forges, which thinks that "to find out the persons responsible for the assassination of President Habyarimana would allow an atmosphere of reconciliation to be created in Rwanda"
 
The specialist in contemporary history of the Great Lakes was the 29th witness to have testified before the Superior Court of Quebec, since the beginning of the trial of Désiré Munyaneza, a 41-year-old Rwandan who took refuge in Canada under a false identity and who has been on trial for the last 6 months for his alleged participation in the 1994 genocide.
 
The defence of Mr. Munyaneza vainly tried to make Mrs. Des Forges admit that Uganda had orchestrated the operations of the RPF, in order to revise the nature of the conflict, from a "national armed conflict" to an "international armed conflict".
 
However, "if one looks at international law, the role of Uganda is no different from that played by other parties in other conflicts during which allies help the parties which are on their side! Did the Ugandans initiate the conflict? No, the RPF knew very well where it wanted to go ", concluded Mrs. Des Forges.
 
The proceedings will restart in January, with the defence case.
 
CS/PB/MM

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