Arusha, August 22, 2011 (FH) - Genocide accused and former Rwandan minister for Foreign Affairs, Jerome Bicamumpaka, Monday took oath before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to testify in defence of his former colleague and minister for Planning in the interim government of 1994, Augustin Ngirabatware.

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Ngirabatware is charged with genocide or in the alternative conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.

Bicamumpaka who is waiting delivery of judgment alongside three other cabinet ministers in a case known as ‘'Government II Trial'' told the Chamber Presided by Judge William Sekule that the accused and the rest of cabinet ministers in the interim government were sworn in, on April, 9, 1994, three days after the downing of President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane, killing all passengers on board.

He said immediately after the swearing in ceremony his ministry was assigned to meet with members of the diplomatic corps in Rwanda, an assignment which was jointly earmarked to be carried out with the assistance of two other ministers, including Ngirabatware and minister of Health, Casimir Bizimungu, also an accused in the Government II Trial.

 ‘'We were supposed to sensitize members of the diplomatic corps and seek rapid assistance from them to put to end the massacres of civilians, war against RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels by then now the ruling power) and to launch political debate with RPF to put into action the Arusha Peace Accord,'' he explained as he was being led in his examination in chief by the accused Co-counsel, Mylene Dimitri.

 According to Bicamumpaka,  the 16th defence witness, among the embassies targeted for the meeting were those of the United States of America (USA), Belgium, France, Dean of the Diplomatic corps and the United Nations representative.

 The witness continues with his testimony on Tuesday.

 The indictment among others alleges that around early April 1994 the accused engaged into a joint criminal enterprise with other authorities in his Nyamyumba commune, Gisenyi prefecture, North Rwanda, to exterminate Tutsi civilians as part of wide widespread and systematic attack against Tutsi population.

 Ngirabatware, is the son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, the alleged sponsor of the 1994 genocide, who is still on the run. He fled Rwanda in July 1994 and subsequently worked in various research institutes in Gabon and France.


© Hirondelle News Agency