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Rwanda - interview

Key witness in Kabuye trial retracts testimony

Article published on the 2008-11-19 Latest update 2008-11-20 12:23 TU

From the cover of "Rwanda, the Secret History", by Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza(Panama Publishing)

From the cover of "Rwanda, the Secret History", by Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza
(Panama Publishing)

Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza, a former Rwandan commando and key witness in the case against Rwandan presidential aide Rose Kabuye has retracted his testimony. Ruzibiza told RFI that Kabuye “was not involved at all” in the downing of a plane that killed president Juvenal Habyarimana and triggered the 1994 genocide.

Ruzibiza gave his statement to French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière in Paris in July 2003. But he claims he did not name Kabuye. Bruguière’s case cites Kabuye and eight others in the downing of the plane.

“I wish to say that Rose Kabuye is really innocent, and I regret to see why the country with a professional judge can make such a mistake,” said Abdul Ruzibiza who spoke to RFI via telephone from Norway.

“It is sad to see countries saying this just for political manipulation,” he added. 

The case has become a point of contention between France and the Rwandan government.

Kabuye, a former guerrilla leader with the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) which fought against the Hutu-dominated government of the time, was arrested in Germany on a French arrest warrant.

“She was working with administration and personnel. After that she was named a parliamentary candidate for the broad-based conditional government and I really don’t see any logic in arresting her or that she was involved in any military operations in downing the plane,” says Ruzibiza.

“I don’t expect that there is any other former soldier who said it,” he added.

Ruzibiza's statement to the judge named a number of people in the RPF, according to French newspaper Libération, including two sharpshooters who were involved in the plane incident, Eric Hakizimana and Frank Nziza.

He later told the paper that he does not know Nziza, and he does not even know if he exists.

The RPF special forces called Commando Network allegedly shot down the plane, killing Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.

In 2005 Ruzibiza wrote Rwanda: Secret History, recounting his experiences as a lieutenant of the Commando Network, but now says that the account of the plane's downing is not true and that the book was the work of several people.

The case brought against Kabuye and eight others by Bruguière is faulty, according to Ruzibiza.

“If he is basing his investigation on me, then I have the right to say that he is a big manipulator… he is saying what I have not said,” he says. 

“I let him manipulate me. He was desperate he had conducted an enquiry for five years and didn’t get any tangible information about the downing of that plane or that accident.”

Bruguière “needed someone to manipulate for political needs and aspirations, but at first had to prove that now they know who did it,”  he claims.

France “tried to deny the genocide because they knew what their role was in the genocide." 

Interview: Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza

19/11/2008 by Alexandra Brangeon

Despite Kabuye’s arrest, Bruguière’s case is running into trouble.

"Bruguière only saw French ex-soldiers, only saw people who were indicted for genocide on trial in Arusha, only renegades and mercenaries. That's the basis of the Bruguière investigation," said Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, a French journalist who has written extensively on Paris-Kigali relations.

Interview: Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, French journalist

19/11/2008 by Michel Arsenault