Arusha, September 22, 2010 (FH) - Genocide-convict Colonel Théoneste Bagosora has asked the Appeals  Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to order and compel former Rwandan Defence Minister, General Marcel Gatsinzi, to testify in his appeal challenging life imprisonment sentence he is facing for genocide.

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Gen. Gatsinzi, currently Minister for Natural Disaster and Refugee Affairs, had refused to testify for Bagosora in the first instance, but later in September 2006, he expressed his readiness, giving conditions that he would show up as a court witness and that he would be heard through video link.

Trial Chamber I refused to consider him as its witness and no follow up was made on the other condition. In his new demand, Bagosora, former Director of Cabinet in the Defence Ministry, who was considered the mastermind of the 1994 genocide, seeks the testimony of Gen. Gatsinzi for search of truth.

In his motion published in the ICTR website and made available to Hirondelle News Agency Wednesday, Bagosora stated that his conviction was based on speculative grounds that being the highest authority in Defence Ministry he exercised effective control over the army and gendarmerie between April 6 and 9, 1994.

"As acting Chief of Staff of the armed forces, who was appointed on April 6 to 7, 1994 and arrival at the Rwandan Army Headquarters in the afternoon of April 7, Gatsinzi is well placed to testify on the functioning of the army and on the chain of command from April 6 to 9, 1994," Bagosora stated.

He added that Gatsinzi was also in good stead to account for almost all the attacks that took place over the period, for which he has been found guilty. Therefore, Bagosora claims, Gatsinzi's testimony remained relevant on findings dealing with his authority if the judgement would still base on Trial Chamber's inference that he (Bagosora) had control over the army.

According to Bagosora, during the trial he produced documentary exhibits, in which Gatsinzi does not question the effective powers he wielded as Chief of Staff, fails to mention a chain of command that could challenge his power and give a presentation on military attacks that was consistent with his defence case.

"If Gatsinzi acknowledges the statements he uttered at the time of the acts charged against Bagosora, there is no doubt that the Chamber's entire reasoning based on speculation will crumble, as it is inconsistent with the audio and written records pertaining to Gatsinzi," he stated.

Bagosora is appealing against the life sentence imposed on him on December 18, 2008 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In his 65 pages of memorandum containing six grounds of appeal, he seeks for reverse of sentence and acquittal. No date has been set for hearing the appeal.

The Trial Chamber found him guilty of the killings of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers in charge of her security, as well as of crimes committed at several roadblocks in the Kigali area and in his hometown of Gisenyi (North-West of Rwanda) between April 6 and 9, 1994.

He was charged jointly with three other military officers, Brigadier-General Gratien Kabiligi, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, and Lt. Col Anatole Nsengiyumva of genocide, among others. Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment each, while Kabiligi was acquitted.


© Hirondelle News Agency