Arusha, January 20, 2011 (FH) - The Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO) was headquarters for killers in Butare prefecture (Western Rwanda) during the war, former Rwandan Gendarme, Corporal Anaclet Dufitumukiza, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday.

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"ESO was a school, but also a military camp. During the war it was a headquarters for the killers in Butare," claimed Dufitumukiza while testifying as fifth prosecution witness against ex-Rwandan military officer, Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana. He maintained that between April and July 1994, ESO was a command unit for operations.

Led by Trial Attorney Yasmine Chubin, the witness alleged further that he witnessed ESO soldiers killing Tutsi refugees at Cyahinda Parish in the prefecture on April 19, 1994. "ESO soldiers were determined to exterminate the Tutsis. They were heavily armed," Dufitumukiza stated.

Asked by the bench how sure he was that soldiers at the parish came from ESO, the witness replied, "I know the soldiers",  he responded, explaining his gendarmerie camp was not far from the military academy.

Nizeyimana is charged with genocide, extermination, murder and rape. According to the indictment, he authorized, ordered or instigated soldiers from ESO, where he was based, to kill Tutsi refugees at Cyahinda Parish  Church in Nyakizu Commune.

The captain's co-counsel, Cainnech Lussiaa'-Berdou, however, appeared to disagree with prosecution's position on the defendant's  de facto or de jure authority at ESO.

The witness, however, maintained: "I was a gendarme. I spent ten years in the gendarmerie (in Butare). I could see Nizeyimana giving orders and directives whenever I go to the camp."  Dufitumukiza said, as a driver, he used to go to the ESO camp to look for fuel or  for maintenance of the vehicle he was driving.

The trial continues Monday. Capt. Nizeyimana was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to all six charges.


© Hirondelle News Agency