The defense team of Rwanda’s suspected top genocide financier, Félicien Kabuga on Thursday was given an opportunity to cross examine testimonies given by some of the self-confessed militia who took part in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
The UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at The Hague has for whole week been listening to prosecution witnesses in the case of Kabuga- who has been on trial for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi crimes since September 29, 2022.
Lawyer Françoise Matte, one of Kabuga’s defense team, was given the opportunity to question one of the witness who incriminated the suspect in incidences of planning the 1994 genocide against Tutsi that took place in Gisenyi town (now Rubavu district).
Matte asked about the meeting and when it took place at the Hôtel Méridien, and the witness replied that he did not remember the date, but that it was around the end of May 1994.
The witness alleged that Kabuga was at the hotel and spoke at a meeting that was aimed at raising funds to finance the implementation of the genocide activities and weapons that were purchased from DR Congo through the Rubavu border.
The witness said that he entered the hotel room (where the meeting was happening) and found that Kabuga was speaking, although he said that he did not hear all of it.
He said: “The purpose of the meeting was to collect money to help with civil defense and to help the military with the purchase of weapons. That day, 160 million Rwandan francs was fundraised and some people delivered their pledges in cash and others gave cheques,”he said.
Weapons at Gisenyi-Kibuye
The witness was also cross examined on his claims that Kabuga financed and transported weapons (AK47s) into Rwanda through Gisenyi and the ammunition were delivered to Kibuye (Karongi) to be used during genocide activities in Bisesero.
Kabuga’s Lawyer asked him how he knew about this movement and if he had had prior army training.
He said he was part of a group that went to Goma airport at night (3AM) to bring in weapons that had been bought, which were in boxes (crates) estimated to reach 400 and he had been selected to be in civil defense, (impunzamigambi) made up of Hutus- as common denominator.
“We loaded the first and second track and the crates were big, requiring five people to open them. We didn’t open the crates at the airport but at one point in time and in fact we opened them in the morning,” he said.
He described the scene saying the big crates had fire arms and small had ammunition for the firearms. And when asked how many? –he said it was during the night and he didn’t count because it was not his job to count but to offload and load.
“All I can say we offloaded and loaded and the vehicles left and we didn’t inspect though we stayed at meridian (Hôtel Méridien), ” he said.
“Weapon crates were more than the ones with ammunition and I was able to see this in the bus. There were 30 crates.”
The witness also said that the group went and came back in the same buses, in the same order- first the trucks and then the bus behind the trucks.
Asked about the evidence gathered on trucks and the border, he said they checked in at night and came back at 3am in the morning but on arriving at the border the trucks had gone ahead and they didn’t check in but saw Benz trucks which had Kabuga’s logo initials on the driver’s door.
At Bisesero, he said the firearms were distributed inside the stadium- with 400 people (militias) and thereafter the group left for Kigali with 350 militias whose job was to help those at the front to support the armed forces to fight RPF.
The case was adjourned by Judge Iain Bonomy till next Tuesday on grounds that the suspect’s official time in court had elapsed.