GATSIBO-Augustin Nkundabazungu, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia over genocide crimes committed in the former Murambi Commune, on Tuesday, finally appeared before Gacaca Court of Appeal in Kiziguro Sector, Gatsibo District.
The packed court, sitting at Kiziguro parish play ground, was filled with grief as Nkundabazungu, who was arrested in Uganda and extradited in August last year, entered the courtroom.
He was sentenced by a Gacaca Court of Agakomeye Cell, in Gatsibo, where he allegedly committed atrocities during the Genocide against Tutsi.
According to Murambi survivors, Nkundabazungu, together with Jean Baptiste Gatete, then the Mayor of Murambi, planned and organised the killings of Tutsi in the area, especially at Kiziguro parish where thousands had sought refuge.
Nkundabazungu is also accused of supplying weapons to the militia.
“Nkundabazungu is a ruthless killer….he killed my children in front of me. He and Jean Baptiste Gatete destroyed my houses. They even killed hundreds of my neighbours starting from 1990,” one of the survivors testified.
Another witness, Father Laurent Rutinduka of Kiziguro Parish, recalled that prior to the Genocide, the defendant formed ‘Ukuri’ newspaper in early 1992, which detailed the profiles of Tutsi to be killed in the area.
“Nkundabazungu played a key role in forming Ukuri newspaper. This paper published a list of Tutsi who were accused of being allied with the RPF. Most of them were immediately hunted and killed after publication,” he said.
Father Rutinduka, who published a book on Genocide in Murambi, accused Nkundabazungu of setting up roadblocks where many Tutsi were killed.
During the hearing, one of Nkundabazungu accomplices, Jean Baptiste Ntaganda, a.k.a Kaboko, accused the former of killing many people.
“He led us to kill people in Kinunga and Rukungu cells. He would shoot those who tried to escape the machetes,” he said.
The hearing was adjourned until May 31, when the defendant is expected to defend himself.