Arusha, February 19, 2010 (FH) - The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1994, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, labeled the interim government formed after the death of President Habyarimana as "illegal", when he testified this week before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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However, Mr. Booh-Booh did not follow the Prosecution in its claim that the interim government ought to be qualified as "criminal".

Now a retired diplomat, Mr. Booh-Booh, a Cameroonian, was called to the witness stand by the defence of Joseph Nzirorera, who was in 1994 the Secretary General of the then ruling party MRND. "In my opinion, it was an illegal government (...) I kept my distance from a government which, given my background as a jurist, I thought of as being illegal", he told the court. However, when Prosecution counsel Don Webster supported that the interim government was actually a gang of criminals, the former head of UNAMIR replied: "I don't know of a criminal government".

Tuesday when the former diplomat started his testimony he blamed the former UN force commander, General Romeo Dallaire, and the international community for not taking appropriate action to control the Rwandan crisis.

Other accused tried alongside Nzirorera are former President of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatise and its Vice President, Edouard Karemera. The trial continues next Monday.

The hearing of genocide trial against the former Rwandan minister of Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware also continued this week but only one witness, code-named ANAO for security reason was heard.

Wednesday, the accused asked ICTR to request the Holy See to arrange for a meeting between his lawyers and the Apostolic nuncio to Rwanda in 1994, Monsignor Giuseppe Bertello.

His lawyers want Mgr. Bertello to testify, as they assert he would, in support of Ngirabatware's alibi for the period between April 7 and April 12, 1994. According to the indictment and to several prosecution witnesses, Ngirabatware was in his hometown of Nyamyumba (Gisenyi Prefecture) from April 6 to April 12, inciting Hutus to kill their Tutsi neighbours.

In a written request submitted to the judges, the Defence asserts that the defendant was in fact in Kigali where he met most notably with the papal nuncio.


© Hirondelle News Agency