The Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), Paul Rwarakabije, recently testified in the trial of FDLR leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni taking place in Germany.
The FDLR is a French acronym for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a group mainly composed of remnants of Interahamwe militia and former government soldiers (ex-FAR) responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In an interview with The New Times, Rwarakabije confirmed his trip to Stuttgart for the case.
“I appeared before the judge. In my testimony I gave court all the information required from me and I will not say much about the content of my testimony as the matter is still in courts of law,” Rwarakabije said.
According to reports in the German newspaper, TAZ, Rwarakabije, himself a former military commander of the group based in eastern DRC, pinned his two former colleagues who are on trial for inciting violence in the region.
According to the reports, Rwarakabije’s presence in the witness dock caused panic and anxiety within Murwanashyaka and Musoni’s camp as well as their defence teams, as a former insider of the rebel group.
“He smiled a lot and demonstrated a polite and friendly behaviour. He answered quickly; his body language was very much under control,” the report reads, adding that, “his presence turned the trial into an exciting phase compared to the rather uncoordinated process of the previous months.”
According to sources, Rwarakabije revealed a lot of things which the defence side tried to vehemently deny, including confirming that Murwanashyaka was responsible for the FDLR military affairs, although he lived in Germany.
“Rwarakabije said that Murwanashyaka developed guidelines for an attack against Rwanda, the soldiers sent him reports after military actions and he gave feedback to let them know what they should do,” the newspaper said.
“Rwarabakabije stressed that he (Murwanashyaka) always had the last word”.
The chief of prisons reportedly told court that he even came to learn of some FDLR attacks after returning home saying they were ordered by Murwanashyaka himself.
“Rwarakabije talked about the creation of FDLR and how it evolved from ALIR which was the forerunner organization. Because of an incident in Uganda (Bwindi) in 1999, the FDLR was created in order to distance itself from the actions done by ALIR,” reads the report.
The Bwindi incident referred to the killing of tourists by the group within Bwindi impenetrable forest.
He noted that Alloys Ntiwiragaba presided over the fusion of the two organizations in 2002. Rwarakabije said that he opposed the attack against Rwanda and that he gave the order to stop the invasion.
When the FDLR labelled him a traitor, he decided (in agreement with the Rwandan government) to return to Rwanda together with 100 soldiers. He gave the details of his return to the court.
Rwarakabije told court that even when the government urged the rebels to repatriate freely, Murwanashyaka discouraged them and continued to call for more attacks on civilian communities.
He told court that his testimony was not influenced or under pressure from the Government of Rwanda because he was talking about something he knew very well.
More former FDLR soldiers are expected to testify in the coming weeks.