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Court Hears Civil Parties In Rusesabagina Case

by Daniel Sabiiti
10:27 am

Rusesabagina used his influence to mobilise funds to bankroll terror activities.

Victims in MRCD-FLN terror attacks have today started to tell their story so as to inform Judges of what took place and the damages left in their lives.

These civil parties are testifying at the High Court chamber for Crossborder and International Crimes where 21 suspects involved in terror attacks manned on Rwandan soil in 2018/19 by the DR Congo based rebel group MRCD- FLN concluded with their defence yesterday.
The 21 suspects include Hotel Rwanda hero Paul Rusesabagina, Callixte Nsabimana and Herman Nsengimana (both former FLN spokesmen) among many others who have stood trial and confessed or denied committing the terror attacks which included arson, murder, robbery, and damaging citizens property in millions.
Lawyers representing civil parties in the FLN attacks asked the court to have at least three of the victims testify in court so as to get a first-hand picture of what transpired during the alleged attacks.

The lawyers said the victims had presented their cases earlier on suing one of the suspects Nsabimana Callixte but have later changed the file case to have all the FLN suspects in the case compensate damages caused through their actions.

“We want this case to be applicable to all of the suspects even when we had submitted accusing Sankara in the earlier days. We are also asking that three of the victims give a public testimony since they were left with permanent body injuries which they will die with and live in pain for life,” one of the lawyers said.

These three victims are: Eliane Nyirayumva, Alice Kayitesi and Yves Mugisha Gashumba.

The court asked why these testimonies were so important to the trial and why have all suspects implicated yet some of them were not directly involved in the said attacks.

“This is because we represent many victims who are more than 80 and they are not here but with crucial testimonies, we can see the example of the damage that FLN caused,” one of the lawyers said.

The team of lawyers also revealed that one of the victims is traumatized after her child was burned to death in her hands and her fiance- Mugisha is not able to walk after being handicapped in the incident, while Eliane who has a child will not be able to see the father since he was killed in the attack-in Nyungwe.

One of the lawyers said that some people hear of the FLN attacks as a story told in history but yet it happened, thus by having victims speak out, it will give them a chance to tell their story- for example, one Alice Kayitesi, has asked specifically to look in the eyes of the suspect who caused that damage in her life.

Victim demands tabled 
An FLN victim and a lawyer, maître Yusuf Ndutiye who is representing himself was also given a chance to table his demands. Ndutiye started his narration by showing how he fell into the FLN ambush in Nyungwe forest, in Nyamagabe district in 2018.

He said that on the evening of December 15, 2018 he was in the company of others traveling in his Volkswagen Golf car (model 4, produced in 2000) from Nyamagabe district heading to Rusizi via Nyungwe forest national park when he was stopped by heavily armed young men whom he thought were on a routine security patrol.

The armed men identified themselves as forces for the liberation of Rwanda or FLN rebels.

Then they set Ndutiye’s car and other vehicles on fire, killed many people gathered at the same spot and kidnapped many others before the government army arrived.

Lawyer Ndutiye said he managed to escape the attack when the FLN men couldn’t agree on who or which orders to follow and as they caused a fracas among themselves he jumped into the nearby bush and later was saved by government forces-RDF.

“I seek compensation from all persons involved in attacks done on Rwandan soil since they were in the same coordination and they were taking photos of the events, which I think their spokesman Nsabimana will be able to explain,” Ndutiye said.

He narrated that during the attack. FLN had two groups, one for conducting the attacks and another taking and posting photos of what had happened in the Nyungwe attacks.

On his list Ndutiye demanded compensation of his car to be repaid at a cost of Rwf8million since it was the second-hand car used according to dealers.

Ndutiye also stated that he is seeking Rwf2million as compensation for the abuse of personal comfort to end up sleeping in Nyungwe forest.

He also sought compensation for travel expenses in which each of the accused should repay Rwf20, 000 for each of the days spent in the trial during each hearing that has taken place.

On the car- Ndutiye said it is not repairable and the way they burned it was not explained but the fact is that they used a chemical that makes sure nothing remains.

“I don’t know what they used to burn it, and cannot ask it to be repaired, because the metals were destroyed and costing was done by dealers as seen in the file,” he said.

Court wanted to know why he suggested Rwf20,000 per day, and he replied that this is part of his daily fuel and transport facilitation that he commonly uses and an estimate that has been used by earlier courts.

As a fellow lawyer and acquainted with legal matters, the Court also questioned why he wants all suspects who didn’t take part in attacks should be punished for the actions yet it was not an individual act, but the victim said that they all have a direct and indirect role to an extent.

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