22.09.10 - ICTR/KAREMERA - BELGIAN LECTURER ALLEGES NGIRUMPATSE'S STAY IN GOVERNMENT SAVED REFUGEES

Arusha, September 22, 2010 (FH) - A Belgian and former Lecturer at the National University of Rwanda, Bénédicte Van Cutsem Wednesday alleged that the President of the ruling party in Rwanda in 1994, Mathieu Ngirumpatse could not have saved lives of some refugees during genocide had he not remain in government.
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The witness, married to Hildebrand Kayibanda, son of the former Rwandan President, Gregoire Kayibanda was testifying for the defence of Ngirumpatse jointly tried alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).The later had already concluded his case.

‘'To leave the government would be an easy way out for Ngirumpatse but to stay was even a more difficult decision. His stay in government contributed saving lives of some of refugees,'' Benedicte told the attentive Chamber during examination in chief led by the accused, Co-counsel, Frederic Weyl.

According to the witness the accused used his vast contacts including those of the Rwandan soldiers to save some refugees and even close relatives related to the witness. Apart from being the President of MRND then, Ngirumpatse was also the Advisor to the President on Foreign Affairs matters.  

The Co-counsel had earlier demanded to know if the defendant would be in a position to rescue some refugees hosted at various places during the 1994 genocide including those at Hotel des Mille Collines, the Holy Family Church and at Amahoro Stadium had he not remain in the government.

‘'I don't know how he would influence to save the lives of refugees had he been outside the government,'' said the witness who stayed in Rwanda for two years between 1992 and April 9, 1994 when she left the country following escalation of the massacres.

The prosecutor indicted Ngirumpatse and his co-accused Karemera 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.

The witness described the accused as a good man who never entertained any ethnic hatred or differences in terms of political ideologies. She mentioned that he was among several dignitaries who attended their wedding on July 14, 1993 although her husband was from the opposition MDR party.

However during cross examination by the prosecution led by attorney, Maria Wilson, the witness admitted that she never knew Ngirumpatse personally but as public figure who held various senior position in the government and the MRND party. She elaborated further that she saw him for the first time on her wedding day.

The trial continues Thursday.

NI/FK/ER/GF

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