Belgium Genocide case nears end

Fabien Neretse with his lawyer. Internet photo

The trial in Belgium of Genocide suspect Fabien Neretse, 71, which started early November is likely to come to conclusion next week, Andre Martin Karongozi, a lawyer of the victims told The New Times on Saturday.

Karongozi said that after more than a month of draining court sessions, hearing testimonies from witnesses from Mataba and Kigali, in Rwanda, the jury is expected to give its verdict by the end of next week.

“Last Thursday and Friday, we the lawyers of the victims concluded our remarks. It is a decisive moment now after court also heard from various experts and witnesses. On the coming Monday, the accused’s lawyers will defend his position all day. On Tuesday, we shall respond to their statements and the jury will start its deliberation.”

Neretse was charged with several counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

Initially, three trials of Fabien Neretse, Emmanuel Nkunduwimye and Ernest Gakwaya were to happen at the same time during the 2019-2020 judicial year but the court later decided to first hear the former’s case alone and then follow up with the other two.

Court decided that the other two’s charges were over killings committed in Kigali alone yet Neretse’s were also in his home region of Ruhengeri, now Musanze. On October 9, the court decided the men be tried separately. The trials of Nkunduwimye and Gakwaya are expected to start sometime next year.

Neretse, an agricultural sciences expert who studied in Germany, was an influential member of MRND, the ruling party prior to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, who is accused of committing Genocide.

Neretse, originally from a place called Mataba in Ruhengeri – now Musanze District – was an influential figure in the genocidal regime of President Habyarimana, and he is alleged to have used his clout to organize killings of Tutsi in his home area and in Kigali.

He, among others, is suspected of involvement in the murder of a Belgian citizen, Claire Beckers, as well as her Tutsi husband, IsaieBucyana, and their daughter Katia on April 9, 1994 in Kigali.

Who is Neretse?

According to available information, Fabien Neretse, was born in Mataba-Ndusu-Ruhengeri. He studied agricultural sciences in Stuttgart, Germany until 1975.

From 1975, he was at ISAR, a national agricultural research institute, from 1978 to 1980, he was co-director of BGM (Bugesera-Gisaka-Micongo), an agro-pastoral project, from 1980 to 1989, he was director of OCIR Café, the then Rwanda coffee authority, and from February 1992, he worked at the ministry of industry.

From September 1992, he created his own business, Services Matieres Premieres (SMP).

During the 1994 Genocide, he was at one time the head of ACEDI Mataba, a secondary school based in Gakenke District, which he built in 1989. He was also the leader of the Interahamwe militia, which massacred the Tutsi in this area.

According to Karongozi, court heard from numerous witnesses and experts, every day, apart from weekends.

“And among those were witnesses he [Neretse] had requested to testify on his behalf but we were surprised when some of these actually gave evidence pointing the finger at him. One of his witnesses, a man called Alexis Niyonzima, who was a watchman at his school called ACEDI Mataba, told court how the watchmen had guns and these guns were used to kill people.”

Karongozi, however, says it has been tough especially considering the fact that the defense team of Neretse is denying that genocide was a crime committed against the Tutsi.

“One of the defense lawyers, in his initial and written or recorded submissions called the ‘acte de defense’, of about 50 pages, he speaks of double genocide.

“They told court that this was based, notably, on new research by Judi Rever and so on. He also requested the court to hear people like [Faustin] Twagiramungu and Filip Reyntjens and others like them as witnesses. They said that the people who died in the Genocide were close to, ‘RPF’, the enemy of the state.”

Canadian journalist, Rever, is a known denier of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Belgium-based former Rwandan Prime Minister Twagiramungu, openly supports genocidal forces that have, among other atrocities, killed civilians in south-western Rwanda. Belgian scolar Reyntjens is another known denier of the 1994 Genocide.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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