Two Rwandans in oversized suits

23 May 2005 by Emmanuel Chicon

The second "Rwandan" trial that opened in Brussels on 9 May failed to attract the crowd of impassioned spectators who had gathered for the judgement of the Butare Four in 2001. This time, two small-time businessmen appeared in the dock, a successful beer wholesaler and his half-brother, the patron of a street bar and local bus company. Both are accused of actively participating in the execution of the genocide in the prefecture of Kibungo.

When examining magistrate Damien Vandermeersch opened the Kibungo file in March 1995, he was not initially interested in the two men in the dock. The latter were only the subject of investigations after they arrived in Belgium in early 2000. Investigators were chasing former colonel Pierre-Célestin Rwagafilita, thought to be a member of the Akazu or elite inner circle of President Habyarimana, Sylvain Mutabaruka, a deputy from the MRND expresidential party and the local leader of the Internahamwe militia, Emmanuel Habimana, alias Cyasa. Although the latter has been arrested and sentenced to death in Rwanda, the other two, who are suspected of planning the massacres that eliminated 90% of Tutsis in the prefecture, have not been tried. Rwagafilita is thought to have died in Cameroon in June 1995 and Mutabaruka, who is the object of an international arrest warrant, is still on the run. Despite the heavy killings that took place in a short space of time, the Kibungo events have never been the focus of a major trial.

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