Arusha, November 19, 2010 (FH) - Genocide-accused and former Rwandan Minister of Planning, Augustin Ngiribatware, commenced his own defence this week stating, among others, that neither his political party, MRND, nor him ever made hate speeches against ethnic Tutsis.

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‘'It was not the MRND policy to make hate speeches against Tutsis,'' Ngirabatware told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on November 18, when testifying on his own behalf for the second day.

The former minister is accused of genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.

Led by his lead Defence Counsel, Peter Herbert, Ngirabatware explained that he attended MRND political meetings in five communes out of 12 in his home prefecture of Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, in 1992. In all of them, the defendant claimed, he never heard any hate speeches made by leaders of the party.

He told the Chamber presided by Judge William Hussein Sekule that during his entire period as minister of planning starting July 1990 to July 1994 when he fled Rwandan, he did not serve Rwandans on ethnic grounds.

‘'People from my native prefecture and even from other prefectures would asked for my assistance but I would not help them on ethnic basis,'' he said.   

Ngirabatware conceded that he was the member of MRND prefectural Committee in Gisenyi and also held the same position at the national level but denied having any influence at the local administrative structure of the party or government. ‘'I did not play any role, interfere or influence decisions at the local level, neither in Kigali where I lived nor in Gisenyi prefecture,'' he claimed.     

Part of the indictment claims that the accused would often return to his home commune of Nyamyumba in Gisenyi prefecture where he allegedly continue to exercise considerable influence in the local affairs between January and July, 1994.          

Ngirabatware spent 10 years in Switzerland studying at the University of Freiburg where he graduated with a doctorate degree in Economics. When he went back to Rwanda he lectured at the National University of Rwanda (1986-1994). In the meantime he was appointed minister of planning (1990-1994).

He continues with his testimony next Monday. A total of 95 witnesses are expected to testify in defence of Ngirabatware. The accused is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide, who is still on the run.

The former minister fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and France. He was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and has been in ICTR custody since October 8, 2008.


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