01 December, 2008 (FH) - Captain Innocent Sagahutu, former Deputy Commander of the Rwandan Reconnaissance Battalion on trial alongside three other former officers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Monday alleged that the Rwandan Army did everything it could to avert the 1994 massacres but failed because the international community abandoned them.

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Captain Sagahutu, who had just started testifying on his own defence, said he and men entrusted to him fought diligently for the country right from the eve of April 6, 1994 when they learned President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed in plane crash.

Led in his Examination-in-Chief by his lead Burundian defence Counsel, Fabien Segatwa, the defendant told the Tribunal that he had been living with an indictment in which did show what he personally committed and those under his control did during the events in question.

"May be it is because people under my command are no longer alive and dead people never speak," Captain Sagahutu bitterly narrated.

He said so far he had no knowledge of any of his subordinates being prosecuted either in Rwanda or elsewhere in the world.

Speaking about the eve of the tragic event in April 6, 1994, the accused said his squadron moved in quickly to protect strategic areas such as the state house, national radio station, the banks and the telecommunications facilities as expected of them during such events.

The Captain also ceased the opportunity to elaborate that he personally rescued about 10 Belgian soldiers (different from the other ten killed) who were in the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and several Rwandans from all ethnic groups, Tutsis and Hutus alike.

"During evacuations I never discriminate Hutus from Tutsis. I am not sure if I met a Twaa (another ethnic group in Rwanda)," Sagahutu responded to a question from his lawyer, Segatwa, who wanted to know if he ever discriminated the population during the massacres.

The trial which started September 20, 2004 continues Tuesday.

Other accused are; Captain Sagahutu's boss, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and two former Chief of Staff of the Army, General Augustin Bizimungu and that of the Gendarmerie National, Augustin Ndindiliyimana.

They all pleaded not guilty to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.


© Hirondelle News Agency