23.02.10 - ICTR/KAREMERA - EX-MRND PRESIDENT CALLED FOR TRAINING AND ARMING OF YOUTH CIVILIANS

Arusha, February 23, 2010 (FH) - Genocide-accused former President of then Rwandan ruling party MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse,  was alleged by a prosecution counsel before the ICTR to have written a letter in which he called for the secret training and arming of youths to fight Tutsis -almost one year before the genocide.
1 min 27Approximate reading time

The letter dated February 15, 1993, was presented to Francois Karera, former Kigali Rural Governor for comments as he was cross-examined on Monday by the prosecution counsel Saidou N'Dow. It was among the documents ceased when Ngirumpatse was arrested on June 11, 1998 in Mali.

Karera, a genocide-convict, was testifying in defence of the former MRND Secretary General, Joseph Nzirorera, jointly tried alongside Ngirumpatse and MRND Vice President, Edourd Karemera.

‘'You claim that MRND was the party for peace and unity but in the letter, Ngirumpatse called for training and arming youths secretly. How would the party which represents peace and unity call for training and arming civilians secretly?,''  N'Dow asked Karera.

Karera quickly responded: ‘'Which country in the world does not train its army secretly. Any army would be trained in that manner.'' But this response did not satisfy N'Dow. He immediately reminded the witness that it was not about training the army, but rather training and arming civilians.

During re-examination by the Ngirumpatse's co-defence counsel, Frederic Weyl, Karera reasserted that the language used by Ngirumpatse in that letter was justified. ‘'This is how any authority and patriotic person will write during war times. There is no ambiguity in this letter as it is written during war time,'' stressed Karera.

He said that on February 8, 1993, a week before the letter was written, Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, now in power in Kigali, started hostility again and almost reached Kigali City. ‘'The letter was written in that specific context of the attacks by the RPF,'' the witness defended.

Part of the indictment against Ngirumpatse stated that: ‘'Starting in 1993 Mathieu Ngirumpatse and other national leaders (....) provide military training and arms to Interahamwe militias (the youth wing of MRND)...''

The three defendants are held responsible for their superior responsibility for the crimes allegedly committed by their subordinates, the MRND party members, especially the Interahamwe militiamen.

Karera concluded his testimony and the case continues Wednesday.

NI/SC/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency