Arusha, September 13, 2010 (FH) - Former Rwandan military officer and defence witness for genocide-accused Mathieu Ngirumpatse, Major Emmanuel Neretse denied before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday that soldiers distributed weapons to civilians during the 1994 genocide.

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‘'Soldiers distributed weapons to civilians in the Northern part of the country in 1991 in the commune along the battle front. The objective was to enable the population to support the defence system to stop the enemy from infiltrating the country,'' Major Neretse narrated during examination in-chief led by the defendant Co-counsel, Frederic Weyl.

The prosecution among other things alleged that Ngirumpatse, former President of the ruling MRND party in 1994 in collaboration with his co-accused and Vice President of the party, Edouard Karemera, colluded with military officers and other authorities to distribute weapons to civilians especially to Interahamwe militias of the MRND party to use them in the extermination of Tutsis.

Major Neretse who was posted to Kigali City beginning April 10, 1994 explained that the country experienced several attacks by the invading Rwandese Patriotic Front Rebels (RPF) then, now the rulers of Rwanda, compelling the army to distribute the weapons to civilians in Northern border areas.

The former officer also denied that the army trained youths in the use of weapons during the massacres.

‘' The army stopped recruitment of youths into the army way back in 1993,'' he said, adding that in fact, that time he was in the position of knowing the move better because he was one of the members of Prefecture Security Counsel.

During his testimony the witness also denied that he heard the defendant inciting hatred between Hutus and Tutsis.

The trial continues Tuesday.

The prosecutor indicted Ngirumpatse and his co-accused Karemera who had already completed his defence case for seven counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by members of their party and its youth wing, Interahamwe militiamen.


© Hirondelle News Agency