MP pinned on death of colleague’s husband in ‘94

Senator Anastase Nzirasanaho has appeared before a Gacaca court for alleged complicity in the killing of Dr Theoneste Gafaranga during the 1994 Genocide.

Senator Anastase Nzirasanaho has appeared before a Gacaca court for alleged complicity in the killing of Dr Theoneste Gafaranga during the 1994 Genocide.

The late Gafaranga was the husband to Astelie Nyirabenda, a member of the lower chamber of Parliament.

Nzirasanaho appeared before the Gacaca court of Muhima Sector, Nyarugenge District on Saturday. Athanase Condo presided over a seven-man panel of Gacaca judges trying Nzirasanaho.

Several witnesses who testified during the session claimed that the motive of Nzirasanaho’s hand in killing Gafaranga could have been the fact that the latter had earlier been named as a minister in the transitional government on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). Both Gafaranga and Nzirasanaho were members of the political bureau of the party.

“I saw Nzirasanaho pointing a finger to a mob of Interahamwe in the direction of our house where the doctor was hiding and from there, the mob came directly to the small house where he was and they took him,” Ignace Nsabimana, one of the witnesses, testified. Nsabimana was a household help at Jean Karekezi’s home, where Gafaranga was hiding.

“On the day my husband was killed, Anastase (Nzirasanaho) came to my house and brought me two eggs, and in a mocking way, told me that he had found out where he was hiding…he told me to prepare the eggs for him but a few hours later, my husband was killed,” MP Nyirabenda said She added that Nzirasanaho has even after the Genocide persistently mocked her about the death of her husband. 

Nzirasanaho, who claimed to have been a close friend to Gafaranga, could not explain why he cordoned off his home, which was used as a passage to take food to Gafaranga in his hideout. According to Nsabimana, Nzirasanaho whose house was between the home of Gafaranga and his hideout, decided to seal off his fence after establishing where the latter was hiding.

“He told me never to use his home as transit for the food I was taking to the doctor (Gafaranga),” said Nsabimana.

Mysterious deaths
Meanwhile, people attending the session were shocked to learn about the death of two people, who are key witnesses to the killing of Gafaranga. The dead witnesses’ written statements pin Nzirasanaho on the death of Gafaranga.

The witnesses are Ezzechiel Ntawundi and Vincent Habanzimana, who were both working for Nzirasanaho during the Genocide. “The last time I saw Ezzechiel, he told me that the senator had gotten him a job in Rushashi (Northern Province) and after that he vanished,” Regine Nyirabananiro, a relative to Ntawundi, said.

For Habanzimana, who was a ‘bodyguard’ to Nzirasanaho during the Genocide, is said to have been killed in Gisenyi after he had given an account on the alleged senator’s role in Gafaranga’s death. The senator however maintained he was being framed.  He denied having any role in the death of both witnesses.

Also, drama unfolded when another witness, Bernadette Kizima, during her testimony deferred from her written statement.  She changed her testimony in which she had said that Nzirasanaho did have a role in Gafaranga’s death.

After giving different testimony, the presiding judge asked her to explain why she was differing from her earlier testimony in the written statement.

She claimed to have written it at a gunpoint after soldiers invaded her home and allegedly forced her to pin the senator. She however said she did not report the matter to relevant authorities. The jury decided to adjourn the trial to this Saturday, December 8, as many other witnesses had not yet testified.

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