28.09.10 - ICTR/KAREMERA - HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST CLAIMS THERE WERE NO RESOURCES TO CONTROL GENOCIDE

Arusha, September 28, 2010 (FH) - A human right activist and defence witness in a joint case of two top leaders of the ruling MRND party in Rwanda, Francois Xavier Byuma Tuesday alleged before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that there were no resources which could enable the government to control the violence and killings escalating in the country in 1994.
1 min 22Approximate reading time

Byuma, former President of the Human rights organization Turengere Abana, which deals with the promotion and protection of the rights of children in Rwanda, was testifying in defence of the ex-President of MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse.

‘'The authorities and soldiers were displaced the same manner as the population following series of gun fire, bomb shells and attacks,'' Byuma told the Chamber during cross examination by Felix Sow, Co-counsel for the other accused, Edouard Karemera.

Between 2 and 3 million people were displaced in the whole country.

The witness told the Chamber's president Judge Dennis Byron that, although Karemera was the minister of Interior beginning May 25, 1994, ‘'it was not practically possible for him to control some parts of the country, leave alone the whole country.''

He said he fled the capital city, Kigali on May 15, 1994 where as the Interim government had already left for Gitarama after the deterioration of the security following the senseless massacres which were going on the city.   

‘'It was not easy to move about because there were many roadblocks one could observe across the country and militias and bandits were busy killing people in what was referred to as genocide,'' he narrated.

The prosecution took over to cross examine the witness who is also serving 17 year old jail term in Rwanda following genocide conviction by Gacaca courts (semi-traditional courts in Rwanda) more than three years ago.

The witness claimed that he never participated in genocide but his conviction was handed down simply because he was a human rights activist.

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 trial continues Wednesday.

NI/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency