02.12.10 - ICTR/NGIRABATWARE - NGIRABATWARE BLAMES FORMER RWANDAN GENOCIDE-CONVICT PREMIER

Arusha, December 2, 2010 (FH) - Ex-Rwandan Planning Minister and genocide-accused, Augustin Ngirabatware, Thursday blamed his former boss, Premier Jean Kambanda for pleading guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity as he was closing his examination in chief before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
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‘'I am not happy with the guilty plea entered by my Prime Minister, Jean Kambanda. As a government, we did our best with the little resources available to us to put to an end to the massacres in our country,'' Ngirabatware explained.

The defendant said that as Minister in the government led by Kambanda he went to several countries in Africa and abroad, scouting for help to stop the killing spree, insisting that it was not true as pleaded by the Premier that ‘' his government fueled genocide and failed to take proper measures to control genocide.''

Kambanda (now serving life imprisonment in Mali) pleaded guilty for six counts including genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity (murder) and (extermination). He was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 4, 1998 and his appeal was dismissed on October 19, 2000.

According to Ngirabatware, the plea bargain entered by Kambanda with ICTR authorities, the tribunal's refusal to indict former Rwandan Patriotic Front-RPF-rebel officials (now ruling Rwanda) and the failure to order investigation on the assassination of Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana made him believe he would not get fair trial.

‘'All these issues alongside others I did not mention, made me not to turn myself before the Tribunal,'' Ngirabatware elaborated as his lead defence Counsel, Peter Herbert demanded to know why he did not  surrender when he learnt that he has been indicted.

The accused who was testifying on his own behalf, Wednesday denied that he ever distributed weapons in April 1994 to the population in his home commune of Nyamyumba in Gisenyi prefecture, Northern Rwanda in the presence of his wife and children.

‘'I would say that it is not true because it is degrading, insulting and would have tarnished my reputation,'' Ngirabatware said.

‘'Between April 13 and 14, 1994 I was in Gitarama attending two cabinet meetings whereas my wife and children were already in Bujumbura (Burundi),'' Ngirabatware explained.

The government of Rwanda was compelled to shift from Kigali city to Gitarama, central Rwanda on April 12, 1994 following escalation of massacres and violence in the city.   

Ngirabatware who commenced his own defence on November 16, concluded his 10-day examination in chief and will be cross examined by prosecution next Monday.

NI/FK/ER/GF

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