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Bucyibaruta trial: Former Kibeho school girl narrates ordeal children went through during the Genocide

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

A then 14-year-old girl who was a student at the Kibeho based Groupe Scolaire Marie Merci has narrated the ordeal students at the school went through during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi especially how she was forced to take care of a baby who found among the dead.

The Baby boy was unfortunately murdered.

She was appearing before the La Cour d‘Assises de Paris as a witness in a court hearing of Laurent Bucyibaruta, the former ‘Prefet’ of Gikongoro Prefecture where the school is based. 

Bucyibaruta is a genocide suspect whom the prosecution accuses of having ordered Hutu militia, police and other armed group to kill people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Several witnesses have appeared before the court in Paris since the court hearing started.

Wednesday was the turn of a then 14-year-old girl who studied at GS Marie Merci that is based in Kibeho.

Bucyibaruta is suspected of having organized and directed three massacres: April 21, 1994 at the parish of Cyanika and Kaduha, April 22, 1994 at Gikongoro prison and May 7, 1994 at the girls’ school of Kibeho.

Following the former president Juvenal Habyarimna’s plane crush, the witness said that the Tutsi started to phase threats at school that they could be killed any time.

The Hutu students alleged that the Tutsi had killed the president.

From then, she said that they started seeing people fleeing and flocking the nearby Kibeho catholic church as well as school surroundings.

Women and kids were so hangry that they could ask for food and water, men were hungry as well, she said.

Killings started later and dead bodies could be seen while the bad smell could be felt all around, she still remembers.

Horrible memories

According to the eye witness, she saw horrible things where kids were killed, teen girls raped by the militia groups before they were gruesomely murdered.

Narrating her personal ordeal, she told the court that still feels traumatized whenever she remembers what she saw during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

A school security guard brought a toddler was consuming breastmilk from his murdered mother.

“ The security guard brought the baby boy inside the school and he gave him to us ,we took care of him, we gave him tea and some food, he was too small and always cried,” said the witness.

The baby could not be saved

As time went by, the more the baby cried, the angrier the security guard became.

“The security guard threatened he could kill the baby as he continued crying,” she said.

She was also surprised by hearing that some students were asking the security guard to kill the baby. The guard became so aggressive and he turned against the baby. He killed him.

“What chocks me is that I was the one holding the baby when the killer came, he forced me to give him the baby and took him in front of the dormitory, he hit him against the wall, hit him with wooden clubs before he dumped him into the latrine,” she said.

She also talked about having seen Hutu students who turned against their colleagues and killed them.

Others were paid to participate either in the killing or piling bodies of Tutsi who were killed before they were buried by a helicopter that was provided by authorities.

 Charges 

Bucyibaruta, is one of genocide fugitives who had found haven in France. According to the prosecution, he is responsible for the death of over  50,000 Tutsi who had sought refuge in Murambi, during the genocide.

He was highly placed within the Interahamwe militia, and is accused of having participated actively in the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994. 

Born in 1944 in Rwanda, Bucyibaruta is charged with genocide and incitement to commit genocide, extermination, murder and rape. He was an activist within the National Republican Movement for Democracy(MRND), the then ruling party.

as one of top leaders (prefect), he publicly incited and ordered various people under his orders to massacre the Tutsi of his prefecture, according to testimonies.

Bucyibaruta is, among others, suspected of having organized and directed three massacres: April 21, 1994 at the parish of Cyanika and Kaduha, April 22, 1994 at Gikongoro prison and May 7, 1994 at the girls’ school of Kibeho.

Bucyibaruta trial started earlier in May 9,2022 in France after several years Rwanda had been asking the country to arrest him and either try or extradite him to be tried home.

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