Rwandan Criminal Nyamwasa Should Face Justice
The now fugitive Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa dismissed the indictment issued by the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere saying:
– The indictment document is “rubbish”.
– “How can it happen? It is not an international court. He (Brugiere) is not an international judge.”
– Bruguiere is an “obscure juge”.
– “Those times are gone when they can indict and deport sovereign nationals.”
This was reported by V. Sudarshan of Outlook India. The indicted criminal Nyamwasa was then Rwandan Ambassador to India.
Here is the full article from Outlook India:
When he turned on the radio last Thursday, some unlikely news greeted the Rwandan Ambassador to India, Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa. A French court had indicted him for war crimes. The court, presided over by France’s top anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Brugiere, named Amb. Nyamwasa as having a direct role in the assassination that killed Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in April ‘94 and triggered the Rwandan genocide.
Judge Brugiere, nicknamed the ‘Sheriff’ for his erstwhile penchant to carry a Magnum pistol, is famous for rounding up a number of terrorist suspects. He played a crucial role in bringing to book Carlos the Jackal and Libyan officials convicted of blowing up planes in the ’80s. This time he wants Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his military aides, including (then) Col. Nyamwasa, brought before a UN court to be tried for war crimes and genocide. He is convinced that President Kagame instructed his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to destroy the plane in which President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi were travelling.
“The investigations undertaken have clearly shown that, for the RPF, the physical elimination of President Juvenal Habyarimana was the necessary precondition for seizing power by force, and was inscribed in a vast plan worked out to this end,” reads the indictment. “The final order…was given by Paul Kagame himself in a meeting held in Mulindi on March 31, 1994.”
“It is like a judge in Haryana indicting (President) Chirac to appear in court somewhere in Haryana for an alleged crime without proof,”
Amb. Nyamwasa told Outlook India, in response.
“How can it happen? It is not an international court. He (Brugiere) is not an international judge.”
Brugiere is trying the case because the family members of the French-national pilot and crew members approached the French court in 1998 to ask for an investigation to determine who was responsible for the attack.
According to a report by international agency Human Rights Watch (HRW), President Habyarimana died on April 6, 1994, when the plane bringing him home from Dar-es-Salaam was shot down. He had been attending a meeting of heads of state where he had consented to put in place a broad-based transitional government. The president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, who also attended the meeting, decided to fly home in President Habyarimana’s plane rather than in his own. He too died in the attack as did General Deogratias Nsabimana, Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army, along with several others. The plane was shot twice as it was coming in for a landing by surface to air missiles fired from a location on top of a hill near the Kigali airport. The Rwandan army later stated it recovered two missile launchers. The registration numbers on the launchers identified them as SAM-16s, sophisticated weapons that require some training to use.
Judge Brugiere’s indictment, released last week, plunged already strained relations between Paris and Kigali into a diplomatic impasse. Rwanda has since shut down its diplomatic mission in Paris and ordered all French diplomats out of the country. When contacted, the French embassy in India declined to be drawn into the issue, merely stating that the judiciary in France was independent.
How the arrest warrants will be implemented remains to be seen. Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice has already called upon Interpol member states not to give weight to the warrants. At the time of writing, it wasn’t clear what views the mea had on the subject. When asked if he thought the Indian government would act on the warrant, Amb. Nyamwasa said,
“India is a democracy with a functioning government and an independent Parliament and judiciary. It won’t take orders from an obscure French judge. Colonialism is over. Those times are gone when they can indict and deport sovereign nationals. We are independent nations.”
In fact, claims Amb. Nyamwasa, “those named did not commit this crime at all. They weren’t part of the army guarding him (the late president). On the contrary, he (President Habyarimana) was being guarded by French troops. The judge should be indicting them instead.”
Amb. Nyamwasa is still reportedly reading through the document (in French)—which a friend sent him. He’s yet to read all of it, but prima facie he finds it rubbish. “This judge has even got my name wrong,” he says. “I’m identified as Faustin Nyamwasa-Kayumba. I’m not Faustin. Were the Interpol to come inquiring, I’d have to tell them I’m not Faustin.”
As for the actual charges, the ambassador claims,
“The day it happened, I was about 100 km away, in Mulindi, Byumba. This judge alleges that one time I attended a meeting when we planned to kill the president. The source of this information is about fifth-hand. He has not asked us to substantiate it. Not one of his witnesses is first-hand. How do you rely on this sort of information as a basis of indictment? There was no such meeting. There was no such plan anyway.”
Amb. Nyamwasa claims the French government is behind all this. “It’s what they wanted him (the judge) to do,” he says.
“Rwanda is an African republic where the French have repeatedly carried out coup d’etats year in and year out. If they had wanted it, they could have sent whatever evidence they had to Arusha (where a separate inquiry into the genocide is under way). France is causing problems in Cote d’Ivoire. Can Cote d’Ivoire now indict President Chirac?”
Ambassador Nyamwasa, who became a colonel in the Rwandan Patriotic Army in 1993, was Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie in 1994 and has been accredited with the Indian government since April of last year. Ironically, he has been to France—Normandy to be precise—for military exercises as part of a joint training team. This was back in 2001, even as the investigation was under way. But he’s not going back there in any hurry, at least not in the near future.