Home NewsInternational Dogs Led Me to My Mother’s Body-Heart-breaking Testimony in Genocide Trial 

Dogs Led Me to My Mother’s Body-Heart-breaking Testimony in Genocide Trial 

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
12:33 pm

Philippe Hategekimana Manier(sited)

It is a month now, since the Court of Assize in Paris opened a trial against Philippe Hategekimana, a naturalised French citizen who is accused of Genocide crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Nyanza where he was a gendarme.

Hategekimana was an adjutant at that time, which is a rank of a junior officer. However, testimonies from the witnesses suggest that he had so much influence and would decide whom to kill, how to kill them, and would deploy both gendarmes and civilians to kill the Tutsi.

According to other witnesses, Hategekimana was also personally involved in the killing, using the guns that were meant to rather protect Rwandans without discrimination whatsoever.

On Tuesday, a female witness from Nyanza was the first to be heard. She is a genocide survivor who had 15 siblings, but she only survived with two other siblings.

The witness, since the first minute of her testimony could not help weeping as she evoked saddest memories.

“After the crash of the plane that was carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, an already threat against my family intensified. Interahamwe placed a bounty against my father who was a veterinary doctor,” said the witness.

On the fateful day, the witness was hiding near a roadblock at a hill called Nyabubare where many Tutsi, including her father and her siblings were gathered trying to defend themselves against Interahamwe militia who were armed with traditional weapons.

At that area, the children would collect stones and hand them to the adults who would use them to chase the Interahamwe.

When the interahamwe failed, they called upon the gendarme who brought firarms and exterminated the Tutsi and the witness said, “Filipo(Hategekimana) was among them.”

“I saw a thick black smoke caused by the shooting. That’s where my father and brothers were killed. The interahamwe searched for the body of my father and cut his head and paraded it, happy to have killed him,” she said.

“Before his death, my father felt really thirsty but none could give him water. I saw him drinking from stagnant water. My father, a renowned farmer with many milk cows! This was sad to watch!”

After killing the father, the witness said, they paraded one of my brothers to river Mwogo and before killing him they warned: “Please call your father or your teacher to save you.”

This big family was pursued by Interahamwe who were determined to leave none to tell the story.

One of her sisters who was pregnant and carrying a 3-year old baby on the back was discovered under the bed of a neighbor and stabbed to death. As if this was not enough, they removed her clothes “to see the nude of a Tutsi lady.”

“After this, they brought a knife, opened her womb to remove the fetus,” she said.

“His husband who was hiding nearby found a way to grab the little baby who was left helpless, and run away. However, he was not successful. A couple of miles away, Interahamwe seized him and crashed his head.”

After counting and realizing that some of the family members were not yet killed, they faked a communiqué, according to which, the killings were over for children.

Brothers joined this witness in a family where she was hiding, and at a time she was reaping fruits from a guava tree, she saw Interahamwe killing them mercilessly.

A soldier from the genocidal regime saw her later on, and, carrying a bayonet covered with blood, he asked her: “Hutu or Tutsi?” the child innocently said : “Tutsi”

Onlookers using a sign language warned the child to change her mind and when the guy asked again: “Hutu or Tutsi”, the child said “Hutu.”

However, the soldier was already swinging the bayonet ready to kill, but a neighbor who was looking warned: “Stop! That child is Hutu!”

The soldier stopped while saying: “I was ready to cut her into two pieces.”

It is the same neighbor who took this witness, did their level best to hide her with one of her brother. But, on a fateful day, Interahamwe grabbed the brother and killed him.

“Before going to meet killers, we shook hands and said: to God we shall meet,” she recalls.

While struggling to reach an orphanage that was nearby, she was unfortunate to be discovered by an Interahamwe who took her home. The wife of this interahamwe rescued her and sent her to the orphanage.

After the genocide, she said, I returned in the ruins of our home, with my brother who survived from Uganda where he was a student.

“Our dogs ushered us to the bodies of my parents and other sibblings. Killers had brought the head of my father to join the rest. We found the body of my mother with baby on her back,” she said heartfeltly.

According to a reporter on ground, the testimony of this witness was even heard for the judges and everyone in the courtroom to bear.

Everyone had tears rolling in the eyes.

“Saddest story today, is that the killers do not want to tell us how our family members were killed and who was responsible,” she said.

In all her hideouts, the name ‘Biguma’ the nickname of Hategekimana kept popping up.

“Biguma is from this raodblock, Biguma will find you and kill us all, beware! If Biguma finds you all will be done for you,” the witness gave an example of these warnings to answer the defense’s questions.

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