A case involving Prosecution against Seraphin Twahirwa and Pierre Basabose, two Rwandan Genocide suspects continues in Brussels Court of Assize with testimonies on the carnage of Karambo, Gikondo in Kigali.
The court, end of last week heard a testimony of a man in his sixties. He spoke with a tired voice due to the injuries that left him with incurable diseases, but he had memory of every incident in the tragedy.
For instance, the loss of his family, including wife is a story that he tells with traumatic memories.
The witness in the hearing was a driver,the same job he did at the Ministry of Infrastructure, then Minitrap before the Genocide where Twahirwa was a workmate, also a driver.
This put him in a position to know Twahirwa pretty well, and to describe him in smaller details than any witness who was heard before.
The agony in his family started in July 1993 when Interahamwe militia attacked his family and killed his wife.
“My wife was at home in Gikondo when the militia attacked us. As I entered, the militia threw a grenade which injured my wife severely. Even though I was also injured, I had no choice but to wake up and drive my wife to the hospital where she would succumb to injuries,” he said.
“The chief of the death squad was Twahirwa. He was a fearless man, very brutal, boasting to be a relative to the family of the then President Juvenal Habyarimana. He would present himself in a bar so that people give him free beer.”
This witness recalls that Twahirwa was among the rare civilians with weapons because he had a riffle since 1991 and on a daily basis. To survive, the tutsi would give Twahirwa some in form of money and/or, a battle of Whisky, his favorite drink. Failure to raise money for Twahirwa would cost one’s life.
“He used to tell us that he had five interahamwe militia for every Tutsi to kill. With this in mind, whenever he sent his men to us, we would choose those who were most brutal and bribe them with Rwf 500 or Rwf 1000 to leave us alone,” he said.
The witness said that he picks a trauma crisis when he recalls the atrocities of Karambo where Twahirwa had sworn to leave no Tutsi alive.
He spoke about the suspect’s pride in raping the Tutsi women, but was reluctant to share some of the words Twahirwa would use about his victims.
“He would rape a woman and return to his husband to say: I had sex with your wife and for reward to you, I am going to kill you,” he recalls tears in the eyes.
“With the respect I owe to the presiding judge who is a woman, and all women in general, there are words I cannot say in this court, unless I am with men only,” he said.
Twahirwa would share information on the people he killed while discussing in a bar with Simon Bikindi, a deceased Genocide convict also from Gikondo.
At the end of this testimony, every party in the trial presented their comment and, the defence of Twahirwa, lawyer Vincent Lurquin was harsh against the witness through a series of questions.
The witness, recalling the traumatic events he went through during the Genocide told him :” Why are you so hostile and very harsh on me? I understand you know little about our story. You may come to Rwanda and see what I am talking about.”
This gave the witness an opportunity to make a general comment and he told the court. “Genocide survivors went through a lot and have severe wounds, thus people should learn how to handle us in interrogations like these because they don’t know what we went through,” he said.
“We live in fear of death. I want people to understand that Genocide was not a war in its actual definition.”
He presented his worry that the Genocide survivors who experienced the atrocities of the tragedy are dying every day, and are leaving without enough records.