Arusha, February 10, 2010 (FH) - General Augustin Bizimungu, the former Rwandan Army's chief of staff in 1994, denied on Wednesday any criminal conspiracy between him and three leaders of the then ruling MRND party who are on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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General Bizimungu is awaiting the verdict in his own ICTR trial. He was summoned to appear by the defence of Joseph Nzirorera, the Secretary General of the MRND in 1994. In this joint trial, Nzirorera shares the defendant's bench with former MRND President Mathieu Ngirumpatse and the latter's erstwhile deputy, Edouard Karemera.

"I was never the accomplice of any of them to hurt anybody", General Bizimungu replied when Nzirorera's lawyer asked if he had been part of a "joint criminal enterprise" to exterminate Tutsis. The Prosecution is attempting to prove, among other things, that the four men are guilty of "conspiracy to commit genocide", the most serious charge before the ICTR.

Bizimungu asserted that he had not met Ngirumpatse at all during the genocide, and that he only saw Nzirorera on July 10, 1994, in Gisenyi (Northern Rwanda), a week before both of them escaped to the ex-Zaire.

Bizimungu rejected the allegation that he had participated with the accused, on April 8, 1994 in a meeting held at Nzirorera's parents' house to prepare Tutsis massacres.

Concerning Karemera, Bizimungu said he had only met him briefly, twice, in June 1994. After answering the questions of the American defence council Peter Robinson, the former Chief of Staff is to be cross-examined by Don Webster, the Lead Prosecution counsel in this case.

Nzirorera and his co-accused are charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution is also trying to prove that they had "superior responsibility" over MRND militants, and should therefore be sentenced for the crimes committed by their party's members in 1994.

The defendants claim that no links of subordination can be established between themselves and the killers.


© Hirondelle News Agency