Dutch military officials wind up tour

The visiting Dutch military officers Friday ended their five-day tour of the country by attending live court sessions, first at the Military High Court (MHC) in Kanombe and a Gacaca hearing in Gatsata. Shortly after the trio observed proceedings in an appeal case concerning armed robbery and desertion against two civilians and a soldier at the MHC, Col. Ben Klappe, a judge in the Royal Netherlands Army heading the group said that he was impressed by the professionalism of both courts.
The head of the visiting Dutch military delegation Col. Ben Klappe addressing a Gacaca session in Nyamugali cell, Gatsata yesterday. (Photo F. Goodman)
The head of the visiting Dutch military delegation Col. Ben Klappe addressing a Gacaca session in Nyamugali cell, Gatsata yesterday. (Photo F. Goodman)

The visiting Dutch military officers Friday ended their five-day tour of the country by attending live court sessions, first at the Military High Court (MHC) in Kanombe and a Gacaca hearing in Gatsata.

Shortly after the trio observed proceedings in an appeal case concerning armed robbery and desertion against two civilians and a soldier at the MHC, Col. Ben Klappe, a judge in the Royal Netherlands Army heading the group said that he was impressed by the professionalism of both courts.

“What I see is a very professional set up of the professional defense council, the judges and the prosecutors. I think this is very well prepared,” Col. Klappe stressed, noting through his French translator, he got a fairly good idea of what transpired in the trial.

“We got a fairly good idea of what this trial is about and I got the impression that there is a professional defense council,” he said.

Brig. Gen. John Peter Bagabo, the MHC Vice President and other local military and civilian lawyers shared notes with the visitors on various aspects of military justice.

“They (Dutch military delegation) have been working with us –comparing their legal systems with ours and among other things they had wished to witness a court in procession and this is what they have been doing and they are actually happy that it is being done properly,” Bagabo told The New Times.

After Kanombe, the visitors witnessed their first-ever Gacaca procession in Nyamugali cell, Gatsata.

Lt. Col. Jacques T. A van Haalen, the Burundi-based Dutch military attaché to Rwanda reiterated his government’s readiness to track and bring to book Genocide fugitives in his country.

“I know that people fled after the Genocide and are living in the Netherlands, but I can assure you that – and I talked to the prosecutor of the ministry of justice this week and he has received visits from Dutch lawyers to prosecute those (suspects) living in the Netherlands and this process in continuing,” said van Haalen.

“Next week, there is a new visit of Dutch prosecutors visiting your Ministry of Justice to get information and witnesses to be able to get someone who is living in the Netherlands and suspected of genocide.

There is already one who has been punished, so, we are still chasing.” He said

The group later took a guided tour of Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi and laid a wreath.

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