Kibeho: Bucyibaruta urged residents to say that owners of burnt houses had fled, a witness

Kibeho: Bucyibaruta urged residents to say that owners of burnt houses had fled, a witness
Kibeho parish today

In the trial of Laurent Bucyibaruta before the assize court of Paris, a witness says that this former ‘prefet’ advised people during a meeting at Kibeho to say that those whose houses had been burned had fled. This because according to him (Bucyibaruta), some strangers were about to come and ask where the owners of those houses went.

The witness, a man of 58 years old, resident of Kibeho and condemned by ‘Gacaca’ for the crimes in relation with the genocide against Tutsi; testifying from Kigali by videoconference, reported attacks by gendarmes from Gikongoro assisted by communal police officers from Mubuga. For their part, the Hutu population hunted down the Tutsi and killed them.

At the bottom of the church walls, traces of the holes left by the grenade explosions of the attackers.

Concerning the attacks, the witness specifies that the firearms were in the hands of the gendarmes and the communal policemen. The population had traditional weapons: machetes, clubs, sticks… There were many attackers and many refugees, men, women, children who were all killed; victims were tutsis from ‘communes’ Rwamiko, Mubuga and Muganza.

Why would children be killed?

“Because of the bad authorities, of the orders received” the witness said.

“The parish church of Kibeho was burned, not the church of the apparitions which was built afterwards,” he specified. As for the number of victims, it is difficult to estimate them; around 40,000? “Our Tutsi neighbors died there, of course people didn’t deserve to die, leaders should answer for these crimes,” the witness concluded.

Burnt roof of the Kibeho church

Another witness, a survivor from Kibeho, says that the parish was burned down on the third attack.

According to him, the attackers set fire to the church using gasoline that was used to ignite branches at the church gates. Because they could not light fires at all the doors, refugees were able to flee. This is the case of the witness who fled to Karama with his parents, in the prefecture of Butare; he lost several members of his family including his sister and his five children.

At the end of his testimony, the witness wishes to add “I knew Laurent BUCYIBARUTA as ‘prefet’ of Gikongoro. He betrayed Rwandans, he was not a support for the people who were under his authority; I wish him to return to Rwanda to ask Rwandans for forgiveness. With what we have been through, we keep traumas but I chose to rebuild myself. The killers, I see them from time to time, they asked for forgiveness during the Gacaca. What pain me are those who deny the genocide and who have never asked for forgiveness.”

The assize court of Paris started this Tuesday to hear the direct witnesses in the trial of Laurent Bucyibaruta the former ‘prefet’ of Gikongoro, now being tried for genocide and crimes against humanity; the trial which kicked off on May 9, 2022 and scheduled to close on July 12, 2022.