Simbikangwa admits bankrolling RTLM

Capt. Pascal Simbikangwa, the Genocide suspect whose trial opened on Tuesday in France financed Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) an extremist radio that called on the public to hunt and kill Tutsis during the Genocide, court heard yesterday.

Capt. Pascal Simbikangwa, the Genocide suspect whose trial opened on Tuesday in France financed Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) an extremist radio that called on the public to hunt and kill Tutsis during the Genocide, court heard yesterday.

During the second day of the high profile trial at Assize court in Paris, Simbikangwa said he invested Rwf100,000 in the set up of RTLM.

Although he pleaded not guilty of participating in the Genocide against the Tutsi, the suspect told the judges that he invested money into the extremist radio as ‘a democratic act’.

He argued that his investment was out of opportunism and ‘love for money.’

“My participation in the RTLM was a democratic act. I like money but I am not greedy,” Simbikangwa told court.

The amount invested in RTM was equivalent to his three-month salary and, according to Simbikangwa, he saw an economic and cultural benefit in the investment.

Simbikangwa, who was commonly referred to as ‘The Torturer’ during the Genocide, was yesterday pinned by a witness of having tortured him using electric cables.

Court also presented the suspect with a letter addressed to former president Juvénal Habyarimana from the former president of the Constitutional Court, Joseph Kavaruganda, complaining of death threats from Simbikangwa, but the suspect dismissed the letter as ‘fake.’

Kavaruganda was later killed on April 7, 1994. Simbikangwa, who was an intelligence commander during the Genocide, admitted before the presiding judge, Olivier Leurent, of having changed his name and used false documents to enter France. He also said he was a staunch supporter of Habyarimana’s regime.

Simbikangwa’s case is the first Genocide case to be tried in a French court, two decades after the pogrom in which more than a million people were killed.

The suspect, who is charged with complicity to commit genocide and war crimes, faces life in jail if convicted in the seven-week trial.

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