Genocide fugitives

Bandora trial: state lines up witnesses


Charles Bandora ( 2nd right) consults with his lawyers; Boniface Nizeyimana (2nd left), and Mbera Ferdinand after the court session yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

The state yesterday produced two witnesses, among them Laurent Hakizamungu, who confessed to knowing Bandora as a fellow businessman in Ruhuha trading centre in the current Bugesera District.

Responding to questions from the prosecution regarding the role of Bandora during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the bespectacled man said an assault that killed his family was planned from the defendant’s compound and that he was clearly in charge.

He said that besides losing members of his family in the attack, his car was stolen.

“At the time I had already fled to Burundi, but other people who later joined me in refuge told me that the assault was launched from Bandora’s compound. I got the rest of the information during Gacaca courts,” he told court.

The witness, a Genocide survivor, told court that Bandora, through his brother and son, paid back the stolen car.

“To execute the ruling by the Gacaca court, his younger brother and son sold his property and paid back my car,” the witness said, adding that he talked on phone with Bandora who until his extradition to Rwanda, was staying in Norway.

“He told me on phone that his children would pay me back my car.”

The witness is scheduled for cross-examination by defence on September 29, after he told court that he would not have time in the next few days.

The second witness to testify before court was Cyprien Kayitare who said that on April 7, a meeting was held at Bandora’s house in Ruhuha.

The witness said that in the meeting that was convened immediately after the shooting down of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994, a plot was hatched to kill the Tutsi who had sought refuge at the Ruhuha Catholic Parish in Bugesera.

Prosecution says that between 500 and 600 people were killed at the time.

Kayitare’s cross-examination was scheduled for today.

Bandora is accused of genocide, extermination, conspiracy to commit killing, formation of a criminal organisation and murder as a crime against humanity.

Born in 1954, Bandora was a businessman and vice-president of the then ruling party MRND in the former Ngenda Commune currently in Bugesera District.

Bandora pleads not guilty.

“I was sacked as vice-president of MRND because I was not educated and an uneducated man could not give directives to the Bourgoumestre (mayor), army and police,” he told court.

He was reacting to allegations by Jean Baptiste Kayitare, one of the two prosecutors in his case, who had earlier told court that Bandora was influential in the commune so much that the mayor, soldiers and police as well as the interahamwe militia obeyed his orders.

Prosecution charges that he supplied the interahamwe militia with transport, food and clothing.
His two lawyers say that all the six charges he faces should have been summed up into one charge – genocide crime.

“The prosecution crafted six charges out of one allegation,” said Bruce Bikotwa, one of the two defence lawyers said, arguing that all evidence presented by the prosecution points to the Genocide. The trial continues today.

Source/New times

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