Rwanda: Sacked Rwandan Defence Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi still haunted by genocide accusations
Kigali: – President Paul Kagame announced major changes in the Army Saturday evening. Defense Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi has lost his job and has been replaced by Gen. James Kabarebe.
The sacked Defense Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi was named to the position in 2002 – at the same time as Gen. James Kabarebe was made army chief. Gen. Gatsinzi replaced exiled Maj. Gen. Bem Emmanuel Habyarimana.
However, along the way – Genocide accusations surfaced which have haunted Gen. Gatsinzi for years. He was acquitted of all charges in 2007 by a Gacaca court, but that was not enough not clear his name.
At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Colonel Theoneste Bagosora – considered the “brain” behind the Tutsi Genocide, Gen. Gatsinzi is wanted to give testimony. The Lower Court first called General Gatsinzi to the stand on September 11, 2006. However, the Minister would only testify on two conditions: first, that he would be a court witness rather than a witness of the Defence and, secondly, that he would be heard via videoconference. This was rejected and not followed upon.
The defendant has always objected that on April 7, 1994, the control of the Army was placed into the hands of General Gatsinzi, when he was appointed interim Chief of Staff in replacement of General Deogratias Nsabimana, who had been killed aboard President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6.
However, last month, the defense team of Colonel Bagosora’s raised the request again, claiming that he was deprived in his first trial of a “fundamental testimony” – that of General Marcel Gatsinzi.
Col. Bagosora is appealing against a life sentence for Genocide. In total, the 65 pages Defence memorandum contains six grounds for appeal and concludes on a request urging the judges to either “reverse the sentence and acquit the defendant” or “to order a new trial”.
[adapted from ARI-RNA]