28.01.11 - ICTR/KAREMERA - PROSECUTION TO CROSS EXAMINE FORMER MRND PRESIDENT NEXT MONDAY

Arusha, January 28, 2011 (FH) - Matthieu Ngirumpatse, former President of then ruling party in Rwanda, MRND  who had been testifying on his own defence for three weeks, Friday concluded his examination in-chief before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after spending 28 hours in the witness box.
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Ngirumpatse commenced his own defence on January 10 and the prosecution will begin cross examining him next Monday.

During the last week of his examination in-chief Ngirumpastse continued denying allegations linking him with crimes committed in the Rwandan genocide including rapes and collaboration between his party, armed forces and government authorities to exterminate Tutsis.

‘'I did not send or order any one to commit rapes. I had no powers to stop or punish those who committed rapes,'' Ngirumpatse told the Chamber presided by Judge Dennis Byron.

Led by his lead defence Counsel, Chantal Hounkpatin, the former MRND president asserted that he did not ask Interahamwe militias or any other persons to rape Tutsi women as alleged in the indictment and by some prosecution witnesses.

Elaborating about the alleged collaborations between MRND top leadership, Interahamwe militias, the military and civilian administrative authorities to exterminate Tutsi population, the witness responded ‘'there was no such collaboration.''

He said his party and four others (MDR, PL,PSD and CDR) formed a government on April 8, 1994 with three main objectives including restoration of peace which was deteriorating in the country, to continue finding lasting solution with Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels and deal with the issue of war displaced persons and refugees.

‘'The government was never illicit, illegal and illegitimate. Its mission was clear,'' he said adding ‘'RPF continued receiving weapons whereas other Rwandans were abandoned; Hutus and Tutsis alike.''

He went on explaining: ‘'If RPF had stopped hostilities for only two weeks we would have been in the position to stop the killings.''

‘'Nobody wanted to stop that war. I was part of the two missions dispatched out to seek for an International assistance but did not secure any from the International communities,'' he said, blaming undisclosed country which allegedly ordered that Rwanda should not be assisted.    

The witness also denied that his party set up civil defence program under his effective supervision, targeting elimination of Tutsi population.

‘'The MRND did not have such a policy and had nothing to do with it. It was the Prime Minister (Jean Kambanda of MDR party) who came up with the civil defence policy on May 27, 1994 which was never implemented,'' he said.

During the first cabinet meeting after the swearing in ceremony on April 9, 1994, he said, the government ordered all political parties to deliberately asked youth wings of their parties and militias to stop looting and the killing spree on the streets.     

‘'I called upon people through the media and the Interahamwe national provisional leadership to stop killings, looting and get away from the roadblocks,'' he narrated, lamenting that other parties and RPF did not take action to that effect.

Ngirumpatse is tried alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera who has already concluded his defence case.

The duo is charged mainly with crimes allegedly committed by members of their party and Interahamwe militiamen of their youth wing.

NI/FK/GF

© Hirondelle News Agency