24.01.11 - ICTR/KAREMERA - NGIRUMPATSE DENIES INTERAHAMWE MILITIAS RECEIVED MILITARY TRAINING

Arusha, January 24, 2011 (FH) -Former President of the ruling party in Rwanda in 1994, MRND, Matthieu Ngirumpatse Monday denied that Interehamwe militias of his party received training in various military camps in the country and thereafter attacked and killed innocent Tutsi civilians.
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‘'The propaganda was orchestrated in such a way that I myself was about to believe it but when it was investigated and discussed in the cabinet it was revealed that the alleged training did not take place,'' Ngirumpatse told the Chamber as he gave testimony in his own defence for the fifth day.

Earlier, his Co-counsel Frederic Weyl reminded the defendant that some of  prosecution witnesses testified that Interehamwe training took place in various military camps including  those of Bigogwe, Mukamira, Gabiro, Byumba and even in some forests and that the defendant chaired several meetings where training of Interahamwe was discussed.

The defendant was quick in his response; ‘'that was beyond the scope of my duties as party leader and I had no access of ordering training for the militias. None of the prosecution witnesses gave evidence that he/she took part in the alleged training.''

‘'Bigogwe camp was used by Belgians to train Para-commando soldiers and they categorically denied that such training (of interhamwe militias) took place,'' Ngirampatse explained.

On allegation that President Juvenal Habyarimana gave a speech at the end of November, 1992 in Ruhengeri, Northern Rwanda stating that Interahamwe militias would come up with arms to fight for the country, Ngirumpatse told the Chamber that ‘'the speech of the President  is available and can be consulted,'' insisting that ‘'he never made such utterances.''   

The defendant also denied that Interahamwe militias collaborated with soldiers to commit killings which took part in Mugosera when he was Minister of Justice stating he personally ordered the investigation on the matter and 500 people were arrested out of which 200 were still under the control of the government authorities when he left the post.

‘'When I left the cabinet in 1992, about 200 people were still held and no one was identified as an Interehamwe or soldier,'' he alleged.

He termed as ‘'propaganda'' prosecution allegation that between the end of 1993 and early 1994 he chaired a meeting where he gave lists of persons to be killed and incited people to kill Tutsis.

‘'No one who is responsible could give such instructions,'' he claimed, stressing if that had happened it would not skip the attention of local and international media, leave alone foreign embassies accredited to Rwanda.

Ngirumpatse is tried alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera who has already concluded his defence case. The co-accused are charged mainly with crimes allegedly committed by members of their party and Interahamwe militiamen of their youth wing believed to have played a crucial role in the 100 days of the killing spree in the country commenced on April 6 until July, 1994.   

He continues with his testimony Tuesday.

NI/FK/ER/GF

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