A ne pas manquer

Appeal trial of SIMBIKANGWA. Wednesday, 26th of October 2016. D2.

Court ruling on the invalidity request

The day starts with the reading of the Courts’ judgment on the invalidity request filed yesterday by the defence. The Court dismissed all claims : nullity of the OMA, nullity of the debates and of a fair trial, of the visits to the scenes and the additional information. Finally, rejecting the application for a release of Mr SIMBIKANGWA because of the lack of representation warranty.

Examination on SIMBIKANGWAs CV

All the rest of the day will be devoted to the examination on the CV of the accused. Member of a family of seven children, Mr SIMBIKANGWA will be asked to explain his many identity changes : in middle school, he chose to call himself SIMBIKANGWA to have a better chance at being registered (name that seems less Hutu from the North than SENYAMUHARA. In fact, his father claims to have called him SIMBIKANWGA at birth!). If he lied about his identity to the police, it’s because he wanted to protect people from his family. All these explanations are hard to understand, even if for him, it’s nothing extraordinary : VOLTAIRE had changed his name too! Besides, the accused has trouble sticking to his resume: several times, he comes back to the fact that his “record was fabricated” that it “is empty”. If he is in prison, “it’s revenge”. It will be asked of him to come back to his resume.

Coming from a mixed family, Tutsi mum and Hutu dad, he acknowledges that he is related to President HABYARIMANA, they share great-grandparents. He has more affinity with his mother, his father being very fickle and sometimes violent towards his wife.

A brilliant student, he will end up, after two years at university, choosing a military career, dazzled by the soldiers uniforms one Sunday at mass. Mr SIMBIKANGWA will not fail to mention that he felt a certain fascination for his president, “an exemplary president in Africa”.

The turning point in his life happened one day in July 1986 : he suffered a car accident that left him paraplegic : “the zero time in my life” he confessed later. Despite cares given in Belgium (privilege he would have enjoyed thanks to his proximity with BAHYARIMANA?), he returned in a wheelchair. he who was a great sportsman, winner of numerous cups, now was condemned to immobility. His young wife gave birth the following year but eventually left him after a few years. He got custody of his daughter, Marie-Merci (same name as the presidents daughter!), whom he decided to send to the United States where she now resides. He never wanted here to be heard, for safety reasons! His is quickly brought to leave the army and will be out at the Intelligence Service (collection and cross-checking of information, control of the press…). He will however continue to be called “Captain”. To those surprised by this, he says : “Do we not still say today Captain D’Artagnan ?”. He obtained the rank of director with our exercising the functions. What he calls “mine warfare” changes the situation in the country and the establishment of a multiparty system, to which he is not favorable, deprives him of any official duties from 1992. But he will sometimes continue to employ informants personally.

The 6 of April 1994s attack against President HABYARIMANA leaves him “stunned”. Nothing will be said about the genocide period, except that in July he fled to Zaire with the help of his “brother” Bonaventure MUTANGANA. He will later go to Kenya will his daughter and nephew, but will be incapable to say what he did in that country. Not feeling safe anymore (murder of two members of the FPR, Mr LIZINDE and SENDASHONGA), he will choose exile to the Comoros, to get to Mayotte : he is finally in France! There he will be apprehended for trafficking false documents and will be sentenced twice to emprisonnment. (NDR. This is also where a complaint for genocide will be filed against him).

The court is adjourned at 1:10pm.

Hearing of Mrs Julie LANDRY, personality investigator.

On resumption, we attend the hearing by videoconference of Mrs Julie Landry, personality investigator. The enquiry in question dates from July 2010, so that the witness will struggle to break away from her notes, despite numerous calls to order of the President. The investigator has actually collected a lot of information from Constantine, one of the accuseds’ sister. The latter is very complimentary when talking about her brother that she describes as “a man with a big heart” who will constantly help his family. She evokes in turn SIMBIKANGWAs’ almost filial attachment to his president : “I loved him a lot, perhaps too much” he would have confessed. The witness added : “He loved him as much as his wife”, confirming his exclusive admiration for the president. The statement of the witness only brings few new elements, the President having already raised himself a certain number of characteristics of the personality of the accused.

Questioned by the President, Ms LANDRY could not really explain why SIMBIKANGWA had never mentioned his “brother” Bonaventure MUTANGANA. However, she will quickly come back on another event that would profoundly influenced the accused : the death of his 6 year old younger sister, in his own arms. His detention in Mayotte ? “Something horrible” because of the degrading conditions to which he was subjected. This will cause a depression. After his accident in 1986, the accused will “over-invest in the professional field”. While in Belgium, he will us his time in rehabilitation to read a lot : that year will enable him to bounce back. He categorically refuses to be pitied.

The president will come back at menthe on the theme of “privileges” which the accused would have benefited from : he was only a junior officer and was sent immediately to seek treatment in Belgium! For the accused, it’s no privilege : he could not have been treated in Rwanda? Mr. DE JORNA is also surprised SIMBIKANGWA would choose Kenya for exit, his family could not afford that. Asked why he did not return to Rwanda, he said he was afraid for his safety. Asked about his feelings following the reactions of the General Attorney, Mr SIMBIKANGWA expressed a request : “I wish he was just with me!”.

Resumption of personality enquiry

It is Domicile PHILIPPARTs’ turn, lawyer for the CPCR, to speak. She comes back insistently on the accuseds’ changes of identity. SIMBIKANGWA gets angry : “These people (pointing to the defence) are always trying to deflect. The question is whether SIMBIKANGWA participated in the genocide or not!” added the accused, pretending to forget that it is about his personality and not the facts alleged against him. The lawyer insists : why even change his name after the mine placed under his car in 1993 episode ? “I only changed it on the passport, not the civil status! It was for my safety, particularly at the barriers.” Amazing ! His lies to OFPRA ? The accused is in trouble and ended up saying again that we want to “drown the fish”, a way to not answer.

SIMBIKANGWA is then interviewed by Mr PHILIPPART on the available resourceshe has. The question bothers the accused who eventually gets angry all the while acknowledging that he owns a ranch with a herd, houses for rent, a salary …

It was Mr Ludovic HERVELLIN-GREENHOUSEs’ turn to question the accused. Returning on his resources, particularly on compensation he would have received after his accident. The question bothers him, but at the insistence of the General Attorney, he finally admitted that he received approximately 1.5 million Rwandan francs, which enabled him to obtain a loan from banks, to build a house he will lease to Americans … He adds, making the merger assistance smile: “I am a socialist. I do not like money much.” And yet! SIMBIKANGWA prefers to choose his ground: “In 1972, I hid because some were saying that I was Tutsi!” Why not? And continuing: “I have always been sensitive to the weak… I was close to the Tutsis… I like the 1789 Revolution … I do not like privileges!”

Mr. CROSSON CORMIER ends the interrogation taking up the theme of “privileges” or rather “benefits” which SIMBIKANGWA would have benefited. He questions in particular his function housing: is it not an advantage? “The benefits, I’ve had them by myself,” insisted the accused. And to add a little, off topic: “HABYARIMANA alive, there would be no genocide!”

“And your departure to Zaire and Kenya, Comoros, Mayotte? What methods did you use?” Insists the General Attorney. SIMBIKANGWA will end up recognizing that he has crossed the border at Goma by car (we learn that he was with his “brother” MUTANGANA), he then took the plane to Nairobi (for 400 euros!) “And why France?” “France is a strong, says the accused, where I would be sure of my safety… and freedom … country where I could develop myself and have projects. France is the land of the free. “
The last word goes to the defence. Mr. EPSTEIN, as he knows how to, lasks false questions. “You come from the bottom and come up?” “We want to make you a Rwandan official who has participated in the genocide” In response, his client initiates : “I have acquired property by my efforts. I am a fighter!” The lawyer will sit down, satisfied.

Hearing of Mr. Bonaventure MUTANGANA, “brother” of SIMBIKANGWA.

Heard at his request, Mr. MUTANGANA will give a very flattering portrait of his “brother”. He described him as a brilliant man who has concern for other family members, but also people of his hill. As his “brother”, he likes to quote French writers. “By seeking to do good, one becomes guilty” (Bossuet), stressing that SIMBIKANGWA finds himself unjustly prosecuted by the justice when all he knew was to be generous. He also stressed his courage in adversity and recognizes that he owns him what he became. “Many believe that it is a criminal! I ask the Court to use its indulgence.” Becoming French? It is his joy and honour!

The President: “Do you feel free to say what you are saying or you are afraid?”

MUTANGANA: “I asked to be heard freely. SIMBIKANGWA is a good man.” At the first trial, he had not testified at the beginning because he was afraid of reprisals. And he acknowledged that he was right because he learned two days ago, that he was being looked for following an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda.

The president calmly tries to raise awareness to the witness that his “brother” perhaps does not only have qualities as witnesses accuse him. “Your brother may have another dark side?” MUTANGA trying to drop back 10 yards and punt on this: “SIMBIKANGWA is lucky to be imprisoned in this country. Otherwise, he would already be dead. “

“On April 7, you go to your brothers with his friend HIGIRO. What was his state of mind? “

“It was sad, dicouraged. But he welcomed his friend HIGIRO. The Tutsis had just killed HABYARIMANA. That did not stop him from welcoming his friends in his house.” He acknowledged that that day he saw dead bodies in the streets of Kigali but did not attend executions. From there, the witness will refuse to answer personal questions because he is himself being prosecuted. His answers could work against him. He ended up saying he crossed the Zaire border by car, with SIMBIKANGWA.

The General Attorney wants to know the date on which the witness obtained the French nationality. The latter, faithful to his guideline, refuses to answer. What the judge does not understand since his French citizenship protects him against any extradition decisions. The tone rises and Mr. CROSSON tdu CORMIER finally gave up.

The floor was given to the defence. Mr BOURGEOT asking the witness if he knows others accused wrongly. He evokes the MUNYESHYAKA case, accused by survivors he welcomed in the Church of the Holy Family in Kigali: ” The hands that were extended to him have bitten him.” Women he saved accuse him of rape!

“And HIGIRO?” continues the lawyer. “He is a good man. He became rich. They were friends! “

Mr. EPSTEIN comes into play: “I congratulate you for your courage. Especially since there are in this court civil parties taking notes…” Follow my eyes! Mr. EPSTEIN being Mr EPSTEIN, as we came to know his at the first trial. And we are only at the beginning of the trial.

SIMBIKANGWA addresses the General Attorney. “If Bonaventure does not have to be worried because he can not be extradited to Rwanda, he runs the risk of being tried for genocide.” Remark that was left without an answer and will close the day.

Hearings adjourned at 8:15 pm.

Alain Gauthier, Chairman of the CPCR

(translated by Léah TSHABALALA)

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