Belgium to try Interahamwe informer

09 May 2005 by Thierry Cruvellier

On 9 May, four years after the trial of the "Butare four", Belgium reopened the Rwandan genocide file with the trial of two businessmen from Kibungo, Étienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashikirwa. Other proceedings are expected to follow, including the long-awaited trial of Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, suspected of involvement in the death of ten Belgian peacekeepers in Kigali on 7 April 1994. But the most secret and spectacular of all is the pending trial of a certain Ephrem Nkezabera, former banker and a member of the national committee of the Interahamwe militia.

The story dates back to November 1996, when investigators at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) made contact with Dieudonné Niyitegeka in Nairobi. Niyitegeka was former national treasurer of the Interahamwe, the youth movement of President Habyarimana\'s MRND party and the main militia that carried out the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda between April and June 1994. Operating from exile in Kenya, Niyitegeka was to become the most important informer for the ICTR\'s office of the prosecutor. His collaboration led to the July 1997 important wave of arrests of highlevel Rwandan suspects who had taken refuge in Kenya, including former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda. As Kambanda later recorded, Niyitegeka "served as an informer to identify the residences of different people arrested in the course of the operation. After this, the same office of the prosecutor organized his escape towards West Africa, either to Togo or Benin, and later his emigration to Canada."

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