26.11.08 - ICTR/MILITARY II - CIVIL DEFENCE NEVER EXISTED IN RWANDA, CLAIMS FRENCH HISTORIAN

Arusha, 26 November 2008 (FH) - A French historian, Bernard Lugan, stated Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the "civil defence", often presented as one of the instruments of the 1994 genocide, never existed in this small country.
1 min 41Approximate reading time

Professor Lugan, who already testified in other cases before the ICTR, was called as an expert by General Augustin Bizimungu, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded an armoured squadron.

"The civil defence never existed in Rwanda. The civil defence is a military process which calls upon former servicemen, reservists or volunteers who are formed for that. This process never existed in Rwanda", supported Lugan. For him, "the rounds" were "security measures" installed by the population and the civil authorities. It, thus, was, according to him, a "civil process which depended on the civil authorities".

"The Rwandan army tried on orders of the government at the end of May 1994 to set up a civilian self-defence, but it was too late", said the French historian. "This concept never knew (in Rwanda) the least beginning of a creation", he stated.

The prosecution alleges that the civil defence was a framework of collaboration between military and administrative officials to assure the success of the genocide plan.

The expert witness, thereafter, attacked the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the UN force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

Lugan, who lectures on geo-strategies in military academies in France, accused Dallaire, while indicating to weigh his words, "to have failed in his mission".

"General Dallaire assumes a crushing responsibility and he will be judged by history. He presided to the greatest failure of the United Nations", struck the French academic who was questioned by Gilles Saint Laurent, General Bizimungu's Canadian lawyer.

According to him, Dallaire could have, facing the situation, exceeded the UN mandate to prevent the resumption of the hostilities and to suppress the massacres.

"A leader, a general must reserve this option" instead of "being locked up in a protective legalism (...) He was not a chamber president, nor a university professor, he commanded an international force", said Lugan answering a question from the presiding Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva.

The expert continues his testimony Thursday.

General Bizimungu and Captain Sagahutu are on trial alongside the former head of the gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and the former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye.

On trial for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the four men have claimed their innocence.

ER/PB/MM/SC/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency