Arusha, July 13, 2011 (FH) - A former "foot soldier" with the Rwandan Army claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday that he never assisted ex-Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware in distributing weapons in North Rwanda during genocide.

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"That is a lie. I never did any such thing. My rank did not even permit me to talk to an officer like Ngirabatware. I was just a simple foot soldier," he claimed when testifying for Ngirabatware as defence witness codenamed DWAN-4 to protect his identity.

In his examination in chief led by the defendant's co-counsel, Mylene Dimitri, the witness said that between April and July, 1994 he was at the war front and not at Rushubi Sector, Nyamyumba Commune in Gisenyi prefecture, North Rwanda, where he is alleged to have offered such assistance to Ngirabatware.

Asked by the counsel what would be his comment if a witness would say that during the period in question he was in the sector and had one time boarded a vehicle to offload machetes to assist Ngirabatwaere in distribution of such weapons, the witness has this to say, "any such witness better appear hear in my presence to provide proof."

He added, "By that time I was at the war front. If one would say I offloaded weapons at the war front that would be something else, but if one said I off-loaded such weapons elsewhere, that was a lie."

The indictment alleges that around mid May 1994, Ngirabatware alongside others, brought arms and ammunition in Gisenyi in two Benz Lorries and Toyota Pick Up truck for distribution to Interahamwe militias, which were used to kill or cause serious bodily or mental harm to members of Tutsi ethnic group.

Furthermore, the witness refuted the claims of witnessing Ngirabatware delivering hate speeches against Tutsis at Rushubi Sector in Nyamyumba Commune between April and July 1994.

He was responding to Counsel Dimitri, who sought for his comment if a witness says he was present when Ngirabatware made such speeches in the sector.  "I did not meet him by that time. I last saw him in January 1993 at the burial of his father," according to the witness.

The prosecution alleges in the indictment that in early 1994 at a public meeting in Nyamyumba Commune, Ngirabatware addressed the audience and instigated those present to hunt for Tutsis and kill them.

The trial continues Thursday.


© Hirondelle News Agency