Arusha, May 10, 2011 (FH) - Jean Ghiste, former Belgian Diplomat in Rwanda and Burundi, Tuesday alleged before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he did not witness soldiers manning roadblocks as he traveled from Burundi to Rwanda in mid May, 1994.

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Ghiste, who by then also represented French-speaking Community of Belgians in the two countries, was testifying for the defence of former Rwandan military officer, Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana now facing charges of genocide, extermination, murder and rape at the Tribunal.  

‘'Civilians were the ones mainly controlling the roadblocks and I did not see real soldiers manning the roadblocks,'' he told the Chamber presided by Judge Lee Muthoga as he narrated about the trip he made from Burundi to Butare in Rwanda by road and back between May 16 and 17, 1994.  

The prosecution charged that from April 7, 1994 until mid July, the same year, Capt. Nizeyimana ordered and instigated soldiers from various military camps to construct and man roadblocks throughout Butare prefecture.  

The witness said he, with a colleague made the trip to assess humanitarian needs for Rwanda then engulfed with violence and massacres.   

Led in his examination in chief by the accused Co-counsel, Cainnech Lussiaa-Berdou, the witness said that after crossing the Burundi border into Rwanda on the period in question he surprisingly noticed people of different ages carrying machetes and other weapons, something he admitted he had never seen before in Rwanda.  

Ghiste told the Chamber during cross examination by Prosecution Attorney, Drew White that although he saw signs of civil violence he did not witness any dead bodies during his travel to and from Rwanda on that trip.

The third defence witness completed his testimony and paved way to another defence witness to take the floor.

The defendant was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day.


© Hirondelle News Agency