The survivors of Rwandan genocide against Tutsis of 1994, in Kabarondo sector (former Kabarondo district), enquiry the process used to pick witnesses in international trials. This issue was raised especially about a trial of two former leaders of Kabarondo, Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, who led consecutively Kabarondo until the genocide period. Their appeal trial is held at Paris assize court from May 2nd to July 6th 2018, after that they were sentenced in first instance to life imprisonment.
The two former leaders were captured in France and Mayotte Island, the hearing of their trial started in May 2016. But some genocide survivors from Kabarondo claim not knowing the process that was used to pick witnesses for this trial, while some of them are victims of the attacks of Kabarondo church led by these two former leaders, and other different attacks that killed their families.
A man, 37 years old from Kabura cell (former Rubira sector and the birthplace of Octavien Ngenzi), in Kabarondo sector, he survived the attack of Kabarondo church. He said that they don’t know how witnesses are picked; “we only heard that some people went to testify and that they came back, but we don’t know how they were picked or what happened with them there in court.” He said.
A mid-aged woman, genocide’s survivor from Cyinzovu cell (former Cyinzovu sector and birthplace of Tito Barahira) in Kabarondo sector, said that they have witnessed different cruelties of Barahira and Ngenzi. She said that they would have more to testify about in this trial, if only they knew how to be picked and go. She said: “We don’t know how it is done, we only hear that witnesses went there; when they are back, they never tell us what happened there.”
“We wished if witnesses that go testifying in this kind of trials, would meet with us before and share our testimonies, so that they can represent the entire group if we can’t go all together. And when they come back, to share with us their experience in the court.” Said a man in Cyinzovu cell, who headed the court Gacaca that treated and judged the case of Tito Barahira.
Rwandan prosecution sees otherwise
The spokesperson of NPPA (National Public Prosecution Authority) Mr. Faustin Nkusi, said that testimony is personal, not collective; no one can delegate another to testify in their behalf, there is no law abiding witnesses to share their stories before entering the court or reporting back what they testified.
Before testifying, one vows before law, and what might be the consequences of that testimony comes on and only on the witness’s account; the main reason why the law insists on witness’ identity protection.
Mr. Nkusi said that if there is someone else who has testimony about any trial, and feel like they can stand as witness in court, they might approach the nearest prosecution office, present their cases, and ask to be directed in a good way to be heard as witness in a trial.
Francine Andrew Mukase