Arusha, 16 June 2008 (FH) - The former leader of Rwandan Gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, presented himself Monday on the first day of his defence testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)," as a man who always showed neutrality in the exercise of the various functions that he occupied in his country. "   

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"I always adopted a neutral position to transcend ethnic and regional sensitivities", stated General Ndindiliyimana.

He entered government in 1982 as Minister for Youth and Sports, the officer originally from Butare, southern Rwanda, was thereafter entrusted with the transport and telecommunications portfolio, then that of defence before being appointed Chief of Staff of Gendarmerie in 1992.

He disclosed that at the time of the single party, he did not want to be elected to parliament because the minister also had the right to sit at the National Council of Development (NCD), the executive power of the time.

The General then affirmed that after the advent of the multi-party system in June 1991, he had refused to become involved in any of the political parties; however, he admitted his sympathy to one of them.

"I had friends in practically all the parties. But the SDP (Social Democratic Party) suited me the most", he said, explaining that at first sight of its program, the political party proposed "certain innovations".

Speaking about the Arusha Accords, of which he was one of the negotiators for the government, he stated that he supported their application even if they were "imperfect".

These accords were signed in Arusha, Tanzania, in August 1993, between the government and the rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, currently in power).

"The accords could have brought us to a solution ... their application was the single chance not to arrive at what happened", added the General who was questioned, for the first part of his testimony by his lead counsel, Canadian Christopher Black.

The continuation of main testimony was to be carried out by the co-counsel, Belgian Vincent Lurquin, and will last until the end of the week.

Ndindiliyimana is on trial alongside three other officers of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), including the former Chief of Staff of the army, General Augustin Bizimungu.

Accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, all four have pleaded not guilty.

Their trial began in September 2004.


© Hirondelle News Agency