Arusha, March 17, 2010 (FH) - Augustin Habakubaho, a former Rwandan soldier Wednesday claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Interahamwe militia of then Rwandan presidential party , MRND, and Burundian civilians were trained at the Gabiro military camp in Murambi commune.

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The witness was testifying in the defence case of the former Rwandan Director in the ministry of Family and Women Affairs Jean Baptiste Gatete who is facing charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. He has denied the accusations.   

Without remembering exact dates, the witness who claimed to have lived in the camp, said that two groups of civilians were trained at Gabiro camp towards the end of 1993 or at the beginning of 1994.

‘'I saw two groups, one was composed of Interahamwe and another group of Burundians,'' Habakubaho told the Chamber during cross examination led by prosecution counsel Drew White from Canada.

The witness went on explaining that the Interahamwe group consisted of between 300 and 400 people whereas the Burundians group was made of between 150 and 200 people. According to him both groups were trained in the use of various weapons, including guns and grenades.

However, the witness denied that French officers were present at the camp to assist Rwandan soldiers in the training.

The Prosecution has alleged that the Rwandan Army trained Interahamwe and gave them weapons distributed through local leaders to use them during the massacres against Tutsis.

Asked whether he saw armed civilians attacking other civilians during the 1994 genocide, the soldier said ‘'I witnessed such incidences in some areas.''

During re-examination by the accused's French lead counsel Marie Pierre Poulain, Habakubaho stressed that the Interahamwe trained at Gabiro came from Kigali and that he had time to discuss with them during the recess.

The trial continues Thursday


 © Hirondelle News Agency