Arusha, February 16, 2010 (FH) - The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1994 genocide, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, heaped blame on the former UN force commander, General Romeo Dallaire, and on the international community, while testifying on Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Mr. Booh-Booh, a Cameroonian,  was called to the witness stand by the defence of Joseph Nzirorera, in 1994 the Secretary General of the then ruling party MRND.

Nzirorera is on trial with Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, respectively the President and Vice-President of the MRND in 1994. The three men are charged for their "superior responsibility" in the crimes committed by their subordinates. They plead not guilty.

Mr. Booh-Booh, now a retired diplomat, claimed that General Dallaire, a Canadian, had failed in his duties as UNAMIR Chief of Staff.

"On the evening of April 6 [1994, the night President Habyarimana's plan was shot down], he was nowhere to be found", declared Mr. Booh-Booh, who was examined by Nzirorera's lead defence counsel Peter Robinson.

The former head of UNAMIR blamed General Dallaire for reporting neither on the circumstances of the plane crash nor on the political murders which were perpetrated the following day, April 7.

"What happened at Kigali's airport, which was under the UNAMIR supervision?", Mr. Booh-Booh asked. "How could it be that Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was killed while under UN protection? What happened to the ten Belgian Blue Helmets [in charge of her security]?".

"No report, no report at all!", he added.

Mr. Booh-Booh also mentioned the assassination of several Rwandan ministers under UN protection.

He went on describing a poor working relationship with General Dallaire: "There was no cooperation. No UN Peace keeping force has ever had two bosses. UNAMIR was plagued with severe malfunctions".

Another series of remarks targeted the international community, accused of having abandoned Rwanda.

"We should have stayed with the Rwandans", Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh regretted, criticizing Western countries for evacuating their citizens from Rwanda instead of providing the military equipment to African states which, he claimed, were ready to intervene.

"The international community ignored the tragedy", he said. "I hope this will be the last time I testify with regard to the problems in Rwanda.  All too often, I have a tendency to speak my mind".

The testimony is due to continue on Wednesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency