Arusha, 13 November 2008 (FH) - A former subaltern officer of the Rwandan army denied Thursday that Captain Innocent Sagahutu, on trial alongside three other officers before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), ever exerted the functions of second-in-command of the reconnaissance battalion.

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"We did not have a second-in-command", said Lieutenant Faustin Habimana who commanded the "light anti-aircraft missiles attached to the C squadron" group of this unit.

Habimana, who is currently exiled in France, explained why Captain Sagahutu was only commander of "the A squadron" of the reconnaissance battalion.

The officers are on trial at the ICTR not only for acts which they would have committed personally but also for exactions committed by their men.

While supporting that Sagahutu was second-in-command of his unit, the prosecutor wants to, thus, charge to him "a responsibility as a hierarchically superior" broader and more important than that of a squadron commander.

Lieutenant Habimana also refuted the allegation according to which Captain Sagahutu would have campaigned within the army in favour of subscriptions of shares to the Radio Television Libre des Mille collines (RTLM), which illustrated itself by its incitement to hatred against Tutsis.

At the end of this testimony, the proceedings were adjourned until Monday, due to a lack of witnesses on location.

According to Sagahutu's lawyers, five witnesses should have been heard at the headquarters of the Tribunal last week.

The captain is on trial with the former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, the former chief of staff of the army, General Augustin Bizimungu, and the former boss of the gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana.

Prosecuted for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the 4 officers have pleaded not guilty.

Their trial began in September 2004 and the captain is the last to call his witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency