The hearing in a Genocide case against former Prefet of Gikongoro Prefecture, Southern Rwanda Laurent Bucyibaruta has continued in the Criminal Court of Paris, France.
Bucyibaruta whose case was opened on May 9, initially came to court by wheelchair, but on May 17, he was walking by himself, accompanied by his son in his early thirties.
The son who has always been by his side carries his files, and the two happen to look at each other and to laugh.
Bucyibaruta greets everyone he suspects is from Rwanda.
During the hearing on May 17, the septuagenarian who is accused of Genocide perpetration, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, as well as crimes against humanity consisting of acts of extermination, murder, and rape spoke before court for the first time.
In a very tired voice, Bucyibaruta defended himself especially on incidents that happened in Rwamiko in 1993 and which allegedly have connection with the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
He also took defence on a case that happened in Mushubi, current Nyamagabe district on April 8, then at Mata tea factory from current Nyaruguru district around that same time.
Particularly, the court dwelt on an incident of April 8, 1994 at Mushubi Parish. The court heard that there were massacre of Tutsi on that date but Bucyibaruta did not stop it.
His defense on that particular case infuriated the judges who couldn’t understand the attitude of Bucyibaruta who had political powers.
Bucyibaruta said, that the Mushubi case consisted of a neighborhood dispute where workers on a road construction faced each others and some of them actually died.
He said the report about the killings reached him from the bourgmester of Musebeya commune who reported to him that a priest from Mushubi was frightened by that incident and did not know what to do.
Bucyibaruta said he ordered the priest’s transfer to Gikongoro parish/cathedral where he could allegedly be protected.
The court asked Bucyibaruta if the killings targeted the Tutsi, but said that both Hutu and Tutsi could have died in the incident, not just Tutsi.
However, when he was asked whether he conducted an investigation on the matter, Bucyibaruta said he had no power for that, and he further claimed, that prosecutors were not able to follow up the case either.
The court could not understand how Bucyibaruta followed up on the case of the priest, but never conducted investigation on the killings. This brought a hit debate in court.
On the same date of April 8, 1994, Bucyibaruta is accused to have conducted a meeting in Rwamiko commune, Southern Province, encouraging sector officers/conseillers to actively participate in the Genocide, because, “A tutsi did not deserve life.”
“That meeting with sector officials never happened. It’s a lie,” Bucyibaruta refuted.
On the Kibeho killings between April 11 and 15, 1994, a witness who served his jail sentence that was handed to him by Gacaca testified against Bucyibaruta.
The 58 year old, a farmer from Nyaruguru, said that since April 11, “We were given an order to kill them all; at Kibeho parish there were crowds of Tutsi-children, men and women. We had a briefing to kill them all, it was a Genocide you know! We were told to spare none.”
He further said that civilians from Interahamwe militia and soldiers and communal police worked together in the torching of Kibeho parish, and “Bucyibaruta was there to see all these things happening.”
“I could hear women and children, men-young and old crying as they were burning. It was a horror.”
While Bucyibaruta claimed that he never witnessed the killing of the Tutsi, the witness said that after the killings, “Bucyibaruta sent a bulldozer to burry the Tutsi because the hands of a human being could not manage. Some 40,000 Tutsi were killed at that hill.”
Bucyibaruta said: “It’s a lie! I never sent a bulldozer to Kibeho for that particular task.”
He further said that on April 11, he was in Kigali.
“I cannot be at two places at one time,” he claimed.
The next hearing will resume today on this note where Bucyibaruta will still answer questions mainly around lack of action during the Genocide.