29.10.07 - ICTR/MILITARY II - A FORMER PREFECT DEFENDS GENERAL BIZIMUNGU

  Arusha, 29 October 2007 (FH) - A former Rwandan prefect, in custody in his country, testified Monday for the defence of the former chief of staff of the army, General Augustin Bizimungu, on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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Imprisoned for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, Basile Nsabumugisha was prefect of Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) during the massacres.
 
He refuted the allegations according to which General Bizimungu would have, at a public meeting, in May 1994, at the communal office of Mukingo, thanked the Interahamwe militiamen for the massacres that they had just committed. Mukingo is one of the 16 communes which composed, at the time, the prefecture of Ruhengeri.
 
"This meeting did not take place. It is the first time that I intend to speak about this meeting ", affirmed the former prefect.
 
Nsabumugisha also denied that General Bizimungu took part, in the headquarters of the prefecture, at a meeting which would have decided to commit an attack against Tutsis who had sought refuge in the buildings of the Court of Appeal, less than 100 meters from the prefectoral  office. "This meeting never took place", formally stated the former prefect.
 
Before coming to the rescue of the officer, he had testified last week for the defence of the former minister of Foreign Affairs in the interim government in place during the genocide, Jérôme Bicamumpaka, prosecuted in another trial.
 
Prosecuted for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, General Bizimungu has pleaded not guilty.
 
He is on trial alongside three other defendants including the former chief of staff of the national gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana.
 
ER/PB/MM

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