Arusha, February 1, 2011 (FH) - President of the ruling party during the Rwandan 1994 genocide, Matthieu Ngirumpatse, Tuesday claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he had no powers to control or punish Interahamwe militias of his party which participated in the killings of innocent civilians.

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‘'Crime issues are not under the powers of a political party. The party's power cannot substitute the power of the state,'' Ngirumpatse elaborated.

Ngirumpatse who started testifying on his own defence on January 10, was being cross examined by the prosecution attorney, Don Webster for the second day.

Webster earlier wanted the accused to explain why there were several complains about criminal acts of Interahamwe militias presented before him but no action was taken against the perpetrators.

The complains included that of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).   

The accused explained that if Interahamwe militias had engaged into acts disturbing the party, he would have taken disciplinary action against the culprits in accordance with the party constitution but said criminal matters are issues best handled by the state.

He went on narrating that Rwanda by then was in a multiparty system whereby state issues were separated from political party issues.  ‘'I did not even have powers over the MRND ministers as they were answerable to the Prime Minister and the Prime minister is answerable to the President of the Republic,'' Ngirumpatse explained categorically.

He said though he was leading a ruling party, during their political rally like any other party, their security issues depended on the government which would provide for them gendarmerie.

Cross examination continues Wednesday.

Ngirumpatse is tried alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera who has already concluded his defence case.  They are charged mainly with crimes allegedly committed by members of their party, notably the Interahamwe militias.


© Hirondelle News Agency