Arusha, 25 June 2009 (FH) - Former Head of Legal Affairs in the Rwandan Army, Lt. Col Ephrem Setako accused the former United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and the Gendarmes for not taking action to stop the Rwandan 1994 genocide.

1 min 15Approximate reading time

‘'There were UNAMIR troops and gendarmes who did nothing despite the fact that they were ordered to carry out joint patrols. What do you expect me to do?'' asked the defendant to the prosecuting attorney, Mrs Ifeoma Ojemini Okali, during cross examination.

Earlier, Mrs Okali wondered how it could be possible for a high ranking officer in the military like Setako not to be aware that ethnic Tutsis were being killed in various parts of the country, including Nkuli and Mukingo communes in Ruhengeri prefecture, where the accused hails from.

Lt. Col. Setako, who is in the witness box defending himself against charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, said as a soldier he was waiting for orders from his superiors to act.

He said the army convened a meeting, which was also attended by the UMAMIR commander, representative of the then Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) now in power in Rwanda, and among the issues agreed, included joint patrols and ceasefire, but were never implemented and instead UNAMIR left the country.

The accused further explained that although he knew that Tutsis were being slaughtered in Nkuli and Mukingo communes,  he was helpless as he was residing in Kigali city.

He also denied several allegations including training of interahamwe militia for killing purposes, implementations of government civil defence program and that he never attended any military officer's meeting held in Kigali on April 6 and 7, 1994.

‘'What I know is that young persons were trained to replace soldiers killed at the war front,'' Setako told the attentive Trial Chamber I presided by Judge Erik Mose of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The accused is expected to conclude his testimony Thursday.


© Hirondelle News Agency