Kigali, May 7, 2010 (FH) - Two Rwandan generals testified on Thursday in defence of Major Cyriaque Habyarabatuma, who stands trial for genocide before a military court in Kigali.

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The former officer is charged with distributing weapons and ordering killings of Tutsis in several places.

According to Radio Rwanda, General Marcel Gatsinzi and General Paul Rwarakabije both attested to the fact that the defendant, who was commanding Butare Prefecture's gendarmerie in 1994, was suspected by his hierarchy of being close to the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

However, they added that they could not say anything about the major's conduct during the genocide as they were not in Butare when the killings happened.

General Gatsinzi was commanding the non-commissioned officers school in Butare until April 7, 1994, when he was appointed interim Army Head of staff. He was dismissed from his duties a week later and replaced by General Augustin Bizimungu, who is currently on trial before the ICTR.

In 2002, eight years after the genocide, General Gatsinzi became Minister of Defence of the regime currently in power. He was appointed last month as the new Minister of Disaster preparedness and refugee affairs.

General Rwarakabije was working at the gendarmerie headquarters during the genocide. In July 1994 he fled to the former Zaire where he became the commander of the Democratic Forces for the liberation of Rwanda (DFLR). In 2003, he deserted the rebels side to join the new Rwandan army.

He is now a commissioner  with the National demobilization commission.


© Agence Hirondelle