Arusha, January 25, 2010 (FH) - Former minister of Planning Augustin Ngirabatware was a "God" in his native district, according to a witness testifying on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Augustin Ngirabatware is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He pleads not guilty.

The Prosecutor alleges that he launched appeals to kill Tutsis during numerous meetings in his home region in 1994. Augustin Ngirabatware is also accused of delivering weapons to the Interahamwe militia and of using public funds to finance them.

Nicknamed Mbio-Mbio (Quick-Quick in kiswahili), Ngirqbatware hails from Nyamyumba commune, in the former prefecture of Gisenyi (north of Rwanda). He is the son-in-law of a wealthy businessman on the run, Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide.

"Mbio-Mbio was a very important person, he was God for Nyamyumba's inhabitants", said the witness code-named AN-AM to protect her identity.

"Seeing him was like receiving a visit from the Lord", the woman added.

Thereafter, the hearing was held in camera.

Augustin Ngirabatware, who was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007, has been in ICTR custody since October 8, 2008.

Holding a PhD in economics from the University of Freiburg (Switzerland), Ngirabatware taught at the National University of Rwanda (1986-1990) before he became Minister of Planning (1990-1994).

He fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and in France.


© Hirondelle News Agency