10.01.11 - ICTR/KAREMERA - DAUGHTER ENTERS WITNESS BOX TO DEFEND HER FATHER

Arusha, January 10, 2011 (FH) - Defence hearing for Mathieu Ngirumpatse resumed Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with the defendant's daughter, Delphine, entering the witness box and claimed that her father neither made anti-Tutsis statements nor called for their extermination in Rwanda.
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"I never heard my father making anti-anybody statements including the Tutsis. My father upheld human life. I never heard him calling for extermination of Tutsis," Miss Ngirumpatse, currently living in Canada, told Judge Dennis Byron in her examination in chief led by the defendant's co-counsel, Frederic Weyl.

Miss Ngirumpatse, the youngest daughter of former President of the ruling party in 1994 (MRND), is among four witnesses her father is expecting to call in the last session for his defence case.

The daughter told Trial Chamber III further that her father neither was a regionalist nor an extremist as, she claimed, was a man of integrity guided with principles of respect for life, truthful and loyalty and many people used to admire him.  She claimed that her father never chose a friend on ethnicity grounds.

"Few Rwandans whom I came in touch have been telling me that my father was a man of integrity and I should be proud of happening to be his daughter," she testified.

According to her, she has come to the Tribunal to have the world discover the truth and unveil to the court that her father was not an extremist and he is charged for crimes he never committed. She added, "I would not wish my father convicted for crimes he never committed. I did not come here as a matter of obligation, but to tell what kind this man is."

In course of her testimony, proceedings were temporarily bought to a stand still for some minutes to allow the daughter to cool down and come back to her normal senses after breaking into tears while accounting difficulties she faced on her way to Bukavu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from Gitarama (Central Rwanda) mid May 1994.

She was threatened to be killed by soldiers on a road block on mistaken identity that she was a Tutsi. Amid sobs, the daughter claimed that the soldiers stopped the car she was traveling in at a certain road block. Despite showing her identity card that she was Ngirumpatse's daughter, a Hutu, the soldiers never minded.

"They never minded who is who. I showed them my identity card. They just looked on it. They were not interested in knowing what appeared in my identity card," she claimed.

Cross-examined by Trial Attorney Maria Wilson, the 36th defence witness for Ngirumpatse, admitted that she had little interests in politics in Rwanda in 1994 and that she had never attended a couple of political meetings, except one at Nyamirambo Stadium where she had accompanied her father.

Hearing continues Tuesday.

In the case, Ngirumpatse is charged jointly with former Vice-president of MRND, Edouard Karemera, with genocide and crimes against humanity, mainly for their "command responsibility" in crimes committed in 1994 by members of their party. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges. Karemera has already presented his defence case.

FK/ER/GF

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