Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne)
18 September 2008
Posted to the web 19 September 2008
A Belgium missionary, who worked in Rwanda leading upto the period of the 1994 killings, narrated to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) how he witnessed about 200 corpses inside the Mugombwa Church in Muganza Commune, Butare Prefecture, and how he helped with the assistance of some Burundi student refugees to bury the dead during the peak of the slaughter.
Constant Julius Goetschalckx alias Brother Stan claimed that the dead inside the church were mostly children, women and elderly, adding that he also saw another about 200 butchered near the road leading to the church and and around the church on 23 April, 1994.
The witness was testifying in the defence of Elie Ndayambaje, former Mayor of Muganza Commune, who is jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the largest and longest trial before the ICTR referred as "Butare Trial".
"There were also other scattered dead bodies [around the area]," added the 24th Ndayambaje's defence witness.
Brother Stan said that it took them about a week-and-half to bury the dead. The Burundian students had sought refuge in Muganza at the Saga Camp which was supervised by Brother Stan.
"Seeing these bodies at the church made me flee the place," he recalled, revealing that he attempted at least twice to escape to neighbouring Burundi but somehow the missions aborted.
Earlier, he said on 21 April he had heard grenades exploding at the level of the Mugombwa Church as his refugee camp and the holy place were not too far apart.
Brother Stan also disclosed to the UN Court that the Ndayambaje and his family had sought for a refuge at the Muganza Communal Office on 20 April, 1994 following eruption of violence.
He also said that he made at least five trips to Butare to find out what was happening in the company of Ndayambaje. He described two to three situations whereby he physically encountered people armed with matches and spears in mid April, 1994 but luckily escaped after informing the attackers that he was a missionary.
The Belgium witness attested that for the first time after nearly 14 years he was struck with malaria and how Ndayambaje and his wife attended to him to prepare food for him.
Brother Stan admitted that he attended Ndayambaje's swearing in after he was re-appointed to the post on 22 June, 1994. He refuted claims that the ceremony was held at the football pitch, but stressed that it was conducted "in the woodlands of the Muganza Communal Office." Ndayambaje stepped down as the Mayor in November, 1992 to pursue further studies after holding the post for nearly a decade.
The Examination-in Chief by Pierre Boule (Canada) continued Thursday afternoon.
Earlier, a protected witness code-named "Bozan" completed his testimony. He claimed that Butare, southern Rwanda, degenerated into spontaneous violence following the assassination of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana whose plane was shot-down by unknown assailants as it was approaching the capital, Kigali on April 6, 1994.
Ndayambaje is the sixth and the final defendant in the "Butare Trial". The trial started in June 2001.All six accused have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity during 1994 killings, which according to UN claimed lives of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The trial is before Chamber II made up of judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Solomy Bossa (Uganda).
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