For more than one month, every working day, the Paris Criminal Court is hearing a case of Laurent Bucyibaruta who is accused of Genocide crimes in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The same room, on June 10 heard former Sous Prefet of Kaduha Hategekimana Joachim 70, who is serving life sentence in Huye Prison over Genocide crimes he committed in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The court heard this man as an informant that was proposed by the defence, but in his explanation of a series of events he seemed to suggest that actually he did nothing wrong during the Genocide where more than one million Tutsi perished.
For those who don’t know, Kaduha sous prefecture was an administrative entity which included four communes; Musange, Muko, Musebeya and Karambo, the headquarters.
Hategekimana explained that the Genocide found his sous prefecture in disputes of positions among bourgmesters, some of whom belonged to the ruling party – MRND and the Social Democratic Party (PSD).
Whenever he was asked to talk about himself though, the former official was quick to allege how “he was there for the Tutsi” who had fled to Kaduha parish premises from the four communes, adding that “he had managed to calm the situation”, only that gendarmes “deceived him.”
Hategekimana said, that when the Genocide started, he heard of some crisis in communes, including Muko and Musebeya, and went to find out what was going on.
He found the Tutsi were being targeted, and requested to have the gendarmes for security, and his boss-Bucyibaruta sent three of them.
“I arrested people who were killing. I have a list of 85 people who were arrested. I had managed to prevent people from killing Tutsi, but the gendarmes who were not in my control killed them,” he told the court.
He said that the day the massacre of Kaduha took place on April 21, 1994, he was hiding in his home, himself “fearing for his life and his family’s”, and he said: “In the evening when no shoting were being heard, I went to the catholic parish, only to find they had finished the tutsi.”
However, his information on the number of victims was received with a lot of questions.
“I think they were around 1200 people,” he said despite estimates reported by other witnesses, including late Sister Mirgitta who was head of Kaduha health centre putting the number between 7,000 to 15000 Tutsi.
Similarly, this official was always quick to explain that his former boss was a man “who tried his level best to protect the Tutsi but strange forces failed him.”
He mentioned two meetings on April 13 and 23 which brought together Bourgmesters and other opinion leaders at Gikongoro Prefecture where they discussed “security of the refugees”.
“Bucyibaruta ordered the burgomasters to stop killings in their communes and to ask for support of gendarmes, would they fail with their own means.”
However, something could clearly be noted in regard to Bucyibaruta’s behaviour vis-à-vis the killings of Tutsi.
“On April 23 Bucyibaruta said that he would go to field or delegate where he could not afford to be. He said there was no issue with the Tutsi, but the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF Inkotanyi).”
This was a strange statement for a leader who knew about the massacre of Tutsi in Kaduha, Musange and notoriously, Murambi of Gikongoro.
“His statement raised controversies during the meeting,” Hategekimana said.
Of all cases, Hategekimana did not show his role in the Genocide which made him convicted to life in jail.
Among others however, one thing clearly came out.
During the Genocide, he said, two people, a man and a woman came from Ruhango in then Gitarama prefecture and reached to Hikizimana’s place.
“The man, a judge had a rocky talky which he said it belonged to the Sous prefecture of Ruhango. He wanted to entrust it to me so that when time comes, I give it back to my fellow sous prefet in Ruhango,” said Hategekimana.
“He also asked me to give his wife an Identity card for Hutus so that they could move safely through roadblocks.
In all this, Hategekimana’s answer was: come back tomorrow, but between that evening and the following morning, the two people failed to get safe haven.
“I heard they were killed in Murambi with Hutus accusing them to communicate with Inkotanyi through the rocky talky (Radio). They accused me to be behind their death,” Hategekimana said.
In spite all this, he court followed Hategekimana’s testimony with two witnesses who indicated that hadn’t been the rudeness of the two men, both the defendant and his sous prefect, probably a few Tutsi could survive.
“On April 8, Sous Prefet Hategekimana came to Kaduha health centre where I was working from. He was with a priest called Kumuyange from Mushubi sector who had sustained an injury and said: prepare for so many injury cases in days to come,” said a genocide survivor who was a nurse at Kaduha health centre during the Genocide.
“The sous prefet said that Tutsi would pay the price of having killed President Habyarimana.”
In meetings that followed, organised by the sous prefet, witnesses said it was decided that no Tutsi should be spared.
“The sous prefet even came to take the Tutsi patients in critical condition and sent them to Kaduha Parish so they could be killed with the rest,” the witness said.
The witness said that her family had special ties with Prefet Bucyibaruta, but the later did nothing to save the family, or, at least one family member.
“It is sad that a person who had capability to help never did,” she said.
Bucyibaruta on his side said: “indeed her family was good friends of ours. I regret having not been able to help. Thank God at least for her she survived.”