26 March 2002

Rwanda: Nsabimana Ordered the Relocation And Killing of Tutsis Says Witness

Arusha — Former Rwandan prefect and genocide suspect Sylvain Nsabimana one of six people accused of genocide crimes in Butare, south of Rwanda, allegedly authorized the displacement and killing of Tutsi refugees in this commune, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) heard.

The allegations were made by the ninth prosecution witness, known only as "QCB" to protect his identity. QCB is a detainee in Rwanda after pleading guilty to genocide crimes before Rwandan authorities.

QCB told the court how on April 28th, 1994, he went to the provincial offices to seek a permit and he saw Nsabimana with Shalom (Arsène Ntahobali). He said that there were Tutsis who were taking refuge at the prefects and that they were forced aboard a vehicle, a Daihatsu by model.

Ntahobali is jointly charged with Nsabimana and four others in the so-called Butare Trial.

The others are former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues Pauline Nyiramasuhuko (Ntahobali's mother) former Butare prefect Alphonse Nteziryayo, former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi of Ngoma and Elie Ndayambaje of Muganza. All have denied committing genocide crimes in Butare in 1994.

Nsabimana assisted in the loading of the Tutsis in the said vehicle where they were seated and he glanced at them but said nothing, said the witness who is testifying in Kinyarwanda.

"After realising that Nsabimana had just authorised Shalom to load the Tutsis, I had no doubt that they were going to be killed, following what I had seen earlier at the IRST," said the witness. Witness QCB stated that later, passers by arriving from the Groupe Scolaire confirmed that the Tutsis taken away from the provincial offices had been killed in a wood at a place called Kabutare.

The witness also told the court that Nsabimana provided a bulldozer to dig up a big hole, which could "swallow" around two thousand corpses of Tutsis, killed on April 22nd, 1994 at Kabakobwa.

QCB told the court that after the burial of these victims on April 23rd, the former prefect came to these places accompanied by Kanyabashi (ex-mayor of Ngoma). "Kanyabashi congratulated us, but Nsabimana did not say anything," said QCB. Prosecutor, Gregory Townsend of America, questioned witness QCB in his principal testimony.

The witness continued with his testimony on Tuesday, with cross-examination by defence lawyers. This case is before Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar of and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho.


Defence lawyers questioned QCB on the roadblocks he testified mainly on, and which were allegedly erected by the accused he testified against to screen Tutsis.

Lead counsel for Ntahobali, Kenyan Duncan Mwanyumba questioned QCB on the 13 roadblocks he cited in his principal evidence, and which he located with the help of a map of Butare town, he said he drew while awaiting his turn to testify. QCB testified that he saw Ntahobali among those at one of the roadblocks, allegedly seeking out Tutsis.

Nsabimana's lead counsel Cameroonian, Josette Kadji also questioned QCB on the roadblocks. The witness continues with his testimony on Wednesday morning.

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