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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Monday 9 May 2005

RWANDA: Army general before gacaca court

KIGALI, 9 May 2005 (IRIN) - Rwandan army Maj-Gen Laurent Munyakazi stood before a gacaca court on Saturday, accused of having helped militiamen who killed thousands of Tutsi people hiding in two adjacent churches in the capital, Kigali, during the 1994 genocide.

"The general came to the church and stood at the alter holding a pistol in his hand," Evariste Ntaganzwa, a survivor, said at a gacaca village-level court; one of many that the government has introduced to speed up genocide trials.

"He picked 18 people and forced them into his truck. None of those people has ever been seen," Ntaganzwa added.

Munyakazi was a police lieutenant colonel in Kigali up until the genocide. He is the second highest ranking Hutu soldier to appear before a gacaca court.

Survivors at Saturday's hearing said Munyakazi had personally killed 18 people; and had helped members of the Hutu militia, known as the Interahamwe; kill over 3,000 others in the St Familie and St Paul Roman Catholic churches. A woman who had hid in one of the churches said Munyakazi had saved her life, but had also collaborated with the killers of other Tutsis a few days later.

"This is unbelievable!" Munyakazi said, rebutting the accusations.

Rather, he said, he had tried to save the Tutsis seeking refuge in the churches. He said he had also provided food and water to thousands who had been displaced in the Nyarugenge sector of Kigali, which fell under his jurisdiction.

"How can they link me to the killings?" he said.

Judges are to study Munyakazi’s file to decide whether or not his case falls under the jurisdiction of the gacaca or the national court system.

Some Hutus say the gacaca courts are targeting them and are ignoring revenge killings committed by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front that overthrew the Hutu-led government. On 29 March, thousands of Hutus began fleeing Rwanda to Burundi and Uganda for fear of being indicted by the gacaca courts, although last week some started to return.


This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005

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