Arusha, November 12, 2010 (FH) - A total of six witnesses have testified this week in defence of the former President of the Rwandan ruling party in 1994, MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), claiming among others, that the accused did not use discrimination in his life.

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The genocide-accused is charged alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera who has already concluded presenting his defence case before the Tribunal.

Three witnesses gave evidence by being cross examined by the prosecution on the basis of their previous written statements whereas the rest were questioned by both parties.

A genocide survivor, Cynthia Isimbi, described Ngirumpatse as a good man who would welcome her together with members of her family when they were young, gave them food and even drove them around Kigali city during week-ends way back before the massacres.

‘'He treated us well every time we went to his home,'' said Isimbi who was six years old in 1994.

When Isimbi's father, Victor Kayonga, was killed during genocide, Ngirumpatse took her alongside other members of the family to Gitarama, central Rwanda, following the escalation of killings in Kigali. They left the city on April 12.

‘'He sent Rose (the wife of Ngirumpatse) to come and pick us up from the neighbor's house a day after my father was killed,'' Isimbi told the Chamber in response to a question asked by the Prosecuting Counsel, Don Webster.   

She said they were taken to a Eden Garden restaurant which belonged to Ngirumpatse's family where they stayed until they left for Gitarama.  

Another witness, Eugene Clement Nahimana, former employee of the Rwandan National Insurance Company (SONARWA), who worked with Ngirumpatse when he was Director General of the company, explained that the defendant had no segregations against any one based on ethnicity.

‘'Ngirumpatse was exceptionally loyal towards all ethnic groups. He was well appreciated by people. At SONARWA he was dignified by every member of ethnic group,'' Nahimana explained before the attentive Chamber, presided by Judge Dennis Byron.

He said soldiers, gendarmes, Interahamwe (militiamen) and other youths from different political parties were jointly mobilized to eliminate, the enemy, Tutsis.

He elaborated during cross examination by Prosecuting Counsel Takeh Sendze that there were several roadblocks at his area where people especially Tutsis were identified and killed. The location was not disclosed.

Giving his evidence, a former Rwandan soldier, Phillipe Rukabya, clarified to the Chamber that young recruits of between 18 and 24 years received training at Bigogwe and Mukamira military camps (North Rwanda) as a routine military recruitment done by government every year.

The clarification followed prosecuting counsel Sendze's suggestion that civilians (other than young recruits) received military training and later joined the killing spree against ethnic Tutsis between April and July, 1994.   

Among the witnesses who were examined in chief and later cross examined was the former close Protection Officer for Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the 1990-1994 war.

Aloys Ruyenzi who lives in exile alleged that President of Interahamwe militia of MRND party in 1994, Robert Kajuga worked for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) now in power in Kigali.

Ruyenzi said members of the RPF used to infiltrate into the Interahamwe, the population at roadblocks and in the public transport where they carried out killings against the population in a bid to hold power by force.

The trial continues next week.

Ngirumpatse and his co-accused, Karemera, are charged mainly with crimes allegedly committed by members of their party, especially the youths.


© Hirondelle News Agency