06.11.07 - ICTR/BIKINDI - END OF THE TESTIMONY OF SIMON BIKINDI A RWANDAN SINGER

Arusha, 6 novembre 2007 (FH) - Prosecution finished its cross-examination of Simon Bikindi in its case against the musician, accused of six charges related to the 1994 genocide.
1 min 59Approximate reading time

Mr. Bikindi, in his fourth day on the stand, refuted chief prosecutor William Egbe's accusations that his song, "Intabaza" ("Alert," in English) incited Hutus to massacre Tutsis when he sang about "the sons of the cultivators," which some say is a reference to Hutus. "Refer to my song," Mr. Bikindi stated. "You will understand quite well who are the ‘sons of the cultivators.' I clearly defined them as Tutsi, Hutu and Twa."

The prosecution's charge against Mr. Bikindi of incitement to genocide has revolved largely around three of his songs. During the trial both sides have called expert witnesses to examine the songs and offer translations from their original Kinyarwanda. The very titles of the songs have come into debate. "Intabaza" was also popularly known as "Bene Sebahinizi" ("The Sons of the Cultivators"), and another song, officially entitled "Akabyutso" ("The Awakening") was commonly referred to as "Nanga Abahutu", or "I Hate Hutus." Throughout his turn on the stand, Mr. Bikindi refused to acknowledge questions from prosecution unless the proper titles were used in questioning.

Mr. Egbe continued in his attempt to show that Mr. Bikindi was an important founding member of RTLM Radio, known for its anti-Tutsi hate programming. According to prosecution, it was through the playing of his music as well as through interviews on the radio that Mr. Bikindi contributed to "expressing hate of the Tutsis."

Mr. Bikindi responded, as he had earlier in his testimony, that he owned but one share of RTLM stock, and all that granted him was "access to RTLM to get my ads played (on the radio) and nothing more than that."
Mr. Egbe also pressed Mr. Bikindi on his whereabouts and actions during the period of June to July 1994, after he had returned to Rwanda from a trip abroad, and before he fled to the Netherlands after the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RFP) had taken over his country. Prosecution alleges Mr. Bikindi actively directed Interahamwe militia at roadblocks to seek out Tutsis and kill them, a statement Mr. Bikindi denied. "No. I was not the leader" of any Interahamwe groups.

Mr. Bikindi, dressed in a traditional Rwandan costume, a white, toga-like robe draped over a white shirt, often produced long-winded, somewhat evasive answers to questions from both the prosecutor and his defense attorney, Andreas O'Shea. He was repeatedly reminded by both lawyers and Judge Inés Monica de Roca to answer the questions directly and concisely. He took questions from Judge Rita Arrey after defense's redirect, and Arrey asked pointedly, "Do you accept that Tutsis were victims in 1994 of genocide?"

His answer was short: "Yes."

His trial began 18 September 2006. Arguments should finish Wednesday, though the trial could be prolonged, as defense has requested a return to Rwanda. Judgement will be rendered in 2008.

SL/PB
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