"Genocide mastermind" begins testifying

[Rwanda] Col Theoneste Bagosora, who is accused of genocide, before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, on 24 October 2005. [Date picture taken: 10/24/2005]
Theoneste Bagosora: The ICTR sentenced him to life in prison (Sukhdev Chhatbar/IRIN)

The former director of the cabinet in the Rwanda's Ministry of Defence and alleged architect of the 1994 genocide began his testimony on Monday before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.

Col Theoneste Bagosora, 64, denied that he masterminded the killings in Rwanda, which claimed the lives some 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

"The accusation that I masterminded the killings is malicious," Bagosora told a fully packed courtroom.

The UN Security Council established the tribunal in late 1994 to bring to trial the key suspects of the April-July 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"I want posterity to know the truth of the 1994 genocide," he said.

The prosecution has alleged that Bagosora was the brain behind the killings. He allegedly ordered military commanders to start killings soon after President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed in a plane crash near the capital, Kigali, on 6 April 1994.

According to Raphael Constant, Bagosora's lead counsel, the testimony is expected to last two weeks.

Bagosora is jointly on trial with a former head of military operations in the Rwandan army, Brig Gratien Kabiligi, a former commander of Gisenyi Military Region - in northwestern Rwanda, Lt-Col Anatole Nsengiyumva, and a former commander of the Kanombe Para-commando Battalion, Maj Aloys Ntabakuze. All four have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Trials are in progress for 25 other suspects before the tribunal. It has already rendered 25 judgments, including three acquittals.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Support The New Humanitarian

Your support helps us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.