Former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Faustin Twagiramungu, today took the stand to testify on behalf of the Defence in the case of the Prosecutor v. Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerard Ntakirutimana.
Led by Mr Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General and counsel for Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, Twagiramungu, the first witness in the Defence case, gave a detailed analysis of the struggle for power prior to the signing of the Arusha Peace Accords on 4 August 1993.
The witness was Prime Minister designate of Rwanda prior to the genocide and served as Prime Minister between July 1994 and August 1995. He was Chairman of the Mouvement Democratic Republicain (MDR) in 1994, and now lives in exile in Brussels, Belgium.
Twagiramungu said that the infighting between various political factions including the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), had disrupted the establishment of a Broad Based Transition Government as provided in the Arusha Accords. He added that everyone was exploiting the Hutu/Tutsi factor for political and personal reasons. Notwithstanding these problems, the witness said he and his party, the MDR, continued to work for peace and unity in the country.
He added that the situation in Rwanda prior to the 1994 genocide was hopeless with rampant killings and assassinations being carried out in various parts of the country and civil war raging in the north.
Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a former pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and his son, Gerard, a medical doctor, are jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with events at the Mugonero Church and Hospital complex in Kibuye prefecture. The case is being heard before Trial Chamber I composed of Judges Erik Møse, presiding, Navanethem Pillay and Andresia Vaz.
Earlier, Judge Møse announced that court sessions would henceforth benefit from simultaneous interpretation between French and Kinyarwanda. Hitherto interpretation from or into Kinyarwanda was consecutive, doubling the time needed to examine witnesses.
This follows successful training of Kinyarwanda/French interpreters by the Language Services Section of the Tribunal’s Registry. The development, a first in the world of language interpretation, will significantly speed up trials taking place before the Tribunal.