The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) Court today continued hearing witnesses in the case of Rwanda’s alleged top genocide financier and master planner, Félicien Kabuga.
A witness code named- KAB066, a self-confessed former member of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) and Interahamwe militia, appeared in court through livestream from Arusha, Tanzania while judges sat at The Hague.
The prosecution, represented by Prosecutor ROSENZWEIG, summarized his witness statement, in which the witness explained that he listened to Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) prior to the Genocide, where they degraded the Tutsi and sensitized the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi to kill the Tutsi.
Witness KAB066 said that he also attended rallies and meetings where the message was to unite against the Tutsi and eliminate them and stated that he also helped offload traditional weapons of which he was informed were purchased by Kabuga.
KAB066 alleged that these weapons were later used to commit the genocide in Gisenyi (Rubavu district) but also added that he also helped offload military type weapons imported from Goma (in DR Congo) such as grenades, Kalashnikov, and ammunition.
The witness said that in 1994, he began killing Tutsi together with other Interahamwe, because he was convinced that the Tutsi were responsible for the death of the president.
Furthermore, the witness testified about the commune rouge where Tutsi were killed and explained that among the people killed were religious nuns and young children whose bodies were transported and dumped using two vehicles provided by Kabuga.
Prosecutor Rosenzweig asked the witness about who had organised and attended the rallies he went to ahead of the genocide.
The witness explained that the meetings happened in Gisenyi and they were organized by political parties such as the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) or the MRND.
The Prosecution then turned to the effect of RTLM broadcasts on the witness’ conduct during the genocide and started by asking how often the witness listened to RTLM. KAB066 explained that RTLM was the radio for young people and was the only radio they listened to.
The witness stated that he listened to RTLM non-stop, and used to take his radio with him even when he went to bars and said that he especially enjoyed listening to Kantano (Eric Habimana) and this made him believe that the Tutsi were evil and bad persons to be hated.
“During the RTLM broadcasts, it was said that Tutsis had always tortured Hutus and that they understood that Tutsis would come and kill us, so they had to kill them first,” KAB066 said.
Replying to Prosecution’s question on how these broadcasts made the witness feel, KAB066 said that he was really excited about it and that he could not even look at a Tutsi and asked if listening to RTLM had an effect on him killing Tutsis during the genocide, he responded “of course!”.
“We all thought that RTLM was telling the truth,” the witness said and added: “I ask for forgiveness from all the Tutsi families and the government and all Rwandans for all those bad things I committed due to RTLM and the political parties who told us that Tutsis are evil and that we had to kill them.”
Kabuga’s lawyer, Maître Françoise Mathe asked the witness how he got the idea of testifying against her client, especially after being a refugee and prisoner in former Zaire between 1994 and 1997 when the new government took over.
According to his witness he got the idea in 2011 or 2012 but that was after he was sentenced in 2007 to 30 years in prison and stated that he decided to testify against Kabuga because of the bad things he did by putting at disposal the weapons in order to kill the Tutsis.
Mathe asked when the witness started listening to RTLM and when he got to know of Kabuga and he replied that somewhere in 1993 when political parties were fighting MRND and that they were talking about the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and that he had seen Kabuga before the genocide when he visited the witness’ neighbor called Zingaye- who was also a rich person in the area.
The witness was also cross examined on the vehicles used in offloading and loading weapons in Gisenyi and he listed the vehicle models as Mercedes Benz and cconfirmed that he was paid by Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva.
He also pointed out that in 1994, Kabuga gave two trucks to the president of the Interahamwe in Gisenyi, a Toyota Mitsubishi and a Hiace and the vehicles were used to transport the Tutsi for killing and to go dump their bodies afterwords.