By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
Two witnesses who are sharing testimonies before the Cours d’Assise de Paris where the genocide suspect Laurent Bucyibaruta is being tried for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on Thursday shared pictures pinning him as one of key figures in the atrocity.
Bucyibaruta, the former prefet (leader) of the Gikongoro prefecture is accused 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.
He was nicknamed ‘butcher” of Gikongoro and is particularly responsible for over 50,000 Victims in different parts of the prefecture.
One witness, Jean-Philippe Reiland Head of Central Office for Combating Core International Crimes and Hate Crimes Paris and beyond, showed pictures of different parts of the then Gikongoro prefecture which was under Bucyibaruta’s leadership.
According to the testimonies, Bucyibaruta organized and ordered the killing for thousands of people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi including those in areas shown by the Frenchman in the courtroom.
Some of areas shown by the Witness include Kibeho, Cyanika, Kaduha, Gikongoro prison among others, which are the spots where many people were killed.
Witness number two. He is a then 17-year-old boy whose father was one of opinion leader in one of popular churches before the genocide.
The witness said that Bucyibaruta and his father knew each other and could often hold meetings together in different campaigns.
To prove that the witness displayed pictures of his father before the judges and the suspect.
The judges asked Bucyibaruta to say something about the picture and his relationship with him. The genocide suspect Bucyibarutsa denied having known him adding that it was his first time to see it.
He said that he met several people in the meeting and little could he know about any person.
However, the witness insisted he might know the picture and was ignoring the fact that he knew his father as he was a church leader. He said that Bucyibaruta was in direct contact with other church leaders including catholic leaders.
Family denied rescue
The witness said that during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi when people were massively killed, his father called prefet Bucyibaruta asking for a favour to rescue his family and other people who had sought refuge in his home all in vain.
Bucyibaruta denied having received any call from that person and wondered whether it was a home based phone or office based one.
The presiding judge asked him whether he ever provided support to people who might have asked him for rescue support.
Bucyibaruta answered that he ordered local district authorities (Gendremerie) commanders to secure the areas in Gikongoro prefecture after it was requested by the prefectural committee.
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 at home.