More witnesses have come up to testify against Lazare Kobagaya, a Genocide suspect whose trial is currently underway in Kansas, United States.
Valerie Niyitegeka, whose husband and three young children were slaughtered during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, gave a moving testimony against the 84-year old Kobagaya who is facing charges of making false declarations to US authorities.
She told court that Kobagaya led a mob attack up a hill where she and many others had sought refuge from the massacres that targeted Tutsis.
Niyitegeka, a village mate of Kobagaya in 1994 in Butare, Southern Province, narrated the jurors how, on April 15, 1994, she, her husband and their six children fled as mobs of Hutu militia burned Tutsi homes.
“I didn’t have a problem with my house being burnt - as long as I am not dead,” she testified through a translator.
Niyitegeka told the courthouse how she climbed - and at times crawled - up the steep, rocky mountainside of Mount Nyakizu with her youngest son strapped to her back.
She described how the women and children gathered piles of stones for their men to throw as mobs of Hutus attacked.
The witness told jurors she was able to identify the elderly Kobagaya as the leader of the attacking mob because she recognized the way he walked and the cane he carried that day. She pointed at him in the courtroom saying “he is there, he is the one.”
During the melee as the family fled the mountain in the ensuing days, Niyitegeka was separated from her husband and three of her children aged 12, 10 and 8, never to see them again.
Joseph Yandagiye, a 76-yr old farmer, told court how that he had given refuge to Niytegeka’s children and their father, at his house only to return when militias had surrounded his house.
When he tried to protect them, he was threatened by the mob which was about to force itself into the House. Appolloni, Niyitegeka’s husband then offered himself to the militias, telling them “take me instead.”
Yandagiye tried to follow the mob as it led away Appolloni and his children, but he was again threatened by the mob led by Kobagaya, forcing him back. The next day, he came to learn of the death of Apolloni and his children through one of the militias.
He testified that Kobagaya told the mob that they should kill him too because he even had sheltered Tutsis in his house in the earlier killings of 1959.
Yandagiye said another community leader, Francois Bazaramba, urged the crowd not to kill him but to punish Yandagiye by making him buy beer, which he did.
Bazaramba, a former clergyman in Nyakizu, was last year sentenced to life imprisonment for Genocide by a Finnish court.
The Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga last week told The New Times that, if anything, the US should be focussing more on Kobagaya’s genocide accusations because they are of a more serious nature compared to fraud.
In the trial which resumes in Wichita, Kansas this week, the US government is seeking to revoke Kobagaya’s citizenship for allegedly lying to immigration authorities on his involvement in the genocide.
Kobagaya is charged with unlawfully obtaining U.S. citizenship in 2006 with fraud and misuse of an alien registration card in a case prosecutors have said is the first in the United States requiring proof of Genocide.