The court of Assize in France is for the third consecutive week hearing a Genocide case involving Philippe Hategekimana commonly known as Biguma.
Former Gendarme with the rank of Adjutant during the Genocide against Tutsi, the man who was deployed in Nyanza, Southern Province, is accused of Genocide crimes including direct involvement in the killing of the Tutsi, and mounting roadblocks where scores of Tutsi perished.
On May 25, the hearing started with a male witness born in 1955 who says he knows well the defendant, because he used to visit his relatives who hail from his village.
At the start of the hearing today, he shared his memory of the killings of Simugoma’s family and many Tutsi on the hill of Nyamiyaga, all by Biguma who latter on would involve civilians in carrying the bodies of the victims to the river Mwogo.
“Biguma could have been the first person who fired the first bullet as an alert to kill the Tutsi. I remember he found us at the roadblock and fired in the air and said: just to let you feel the sound of a gun,” said the witness.
“He took us from the roadblock and tasked us to go throw them into the river.”
When killings intensified, Biguma proceeded at the hill of Rwabicuma where he came as a reinforcement to kill the Tutsi who had resisted interahamwe militia. He fired at them and interahamwe continued with their white arms.
In his way back, Biguma found a young man, his name Bizimana and followed him, shot him dead. “I witnessed the incident personally,” said the witness who was making straight points and in some instances, he could say things as if they happened yesterday.
One of them is an incident which involved the death of one Makuza who was a teacher.
“One day, Narcisse Makuza was unfortunate to meet Biguma in a bar at Kagorora’s. They discussed politics, and Makuza argued that the Liberal Party(PL) would win elections in Rwanda. This was contrary to Biguma who was for the Mouvement Révolutionel Rwandais pour le Development(MRND)-the then ruling party,” he said.
“At the end of the conversation, Makuza took his bike and rid back home, but Biguma rushed at the camp, tracked the man they had shared a drink and shot him dead in a farmland.”
Twenty-Eight people killed at ago
The witness who confessed that he was part of the killing machine during the Genocide also recalled another case where, in the order of Baguma, 28 tutsi were concentrated in the house of one Boniface and, on one fateful day, Biguma convened interahamwe and gave them an order.
“He came with Captain Birikunzira who was the commander of Nyanza in a white pick-up and ordered us to kill them in collaboration with the gendarme that were delegated. They returned thereafter and told us to bury them. We just put them in progressive terraces and covered them with a little soil,” he said.
As of the Nyamiyaga attack, the witness said, that an attack of Interahamwe militia was resisted by the Tutsi who had vowed to defend themselves.
Biguma then would have placed a heavy weapon at Mushirarungu school from where he started firing on the desperate Tutsi.
“He had a machine-gun, and when he started firing, the Tutsi understood that all was finished for them,” he said adding that Biguma was assisted by another Gendarme Sergeant Twahirwa.
In all these killings, the witness said, Biguma would reward us. And when the court asked which reward this consisted of, he answered: “They would allow us to go loot from the Tutsi’s properties without pursuit of justice.”