At the trial of Philippe Manier, the testimonies recall the dark hours of the genocide of the Tutsi

Former Rwandan gendarme Philippe Hategekimana and his lawyers during his trial at the Paris courthouse.

At the bar of the Paris court or by videoconference from Kigali, the witnesses follow one another at the trial of Philippe Hategekimana, 66 years old. A hundred people must appear during this extraordinary procedure started on May 10. The accused, naturalized French in 2005 under the name of Philippe Manier, is being prosecuted for “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” for imprescriptible acts committed in the south of Rwanda In 1994.

Head slightly tilted, one hand resting on the edge of his cubicle, the man of imposing stature listens to the debates while remaining impive. Since Wednesday, June 7, the ize Court has been trying to find out its role during the Nyamure macre, where more than 10,000 Tutsi were exterminated. This is a highlight of this long series of auditions. The issue is to know whether, around April 27, 1994, Philippe Hategekimana, nicknamed “Biguma”, was still a chief warrant officer in the gendarmerie of Nyanza, in the prefecture of Butare. ured him that he was then stationed in Kigali, in charge of the security of a colonel, and therefore far from this hill which fell into horror.

The jurors heard stories that were hard to bear. Julienne Nyirakuru said Friday by videoconference that she was arrested at a roadblock as she tried to flee with her family to Burundi. “There were a lot of Interahamwe [des miliciens hutu responsables de nombreux macres]she said. They cut everyone with machetes. My father was killed like this, before my eyes. » The 9-year-old girl then managed to escape and reach Nyamure hill, where thousands of Tutsi had taken refuge.

“The Interahamwe and the gendarmes climbed to the top and started shooting at us, she explained in tears. My brothers were killed and my aunt was shot in the leg. She fell to the ground and a man cut off her head. I lay down next to her and pretended to be dead. I lay like that all night, because I refused to leave her. At dawn, I understood that there was nothing more to do, so I went to hide in a field of sorghum. »

“Slashed with a machete”

Apollinarie Gakuru was 15 at the time of the genocide. At the helm, she recounted in great detail her “long way of the cross” made of “s in turn by many men” and the murder of his mother, “cut with a machete by Interahamwe”. “I went back to the barrier because I wanted to get it over with, she confided at the end of her hearing. I wanted to die, I wanted to be killed. »

Philippe Hategekimana, also accused of the murder of a bourgmestre, of having taken part in the erection of roadblocks and the macre of Nyabubare hill, where nearly 300 Tutsi were killed, was he at the heart of the matrix genocidal? Some testimonies seemed fragile.

Leopold Mukiga, a survivor now 64, said several witnesses ured him that the Nyamure attack, in which he lost his sister and uncle, was “directed by Philippe Hategekimana”. “But what did you see? »asked the president. “I didn’t stay there long. answered the witness. I arrived there on the 26th and left on the 28th or 29th. “You do not mention certain attacks in your civil party application and it is surprising, then got carried away the judge Jean-Marc Lavergne. You also say you saw a helicopter [à Karama]. However, I do not remember that other witnesses saw him. »

The facts go back almost thirty years. Sometimes memories get mixed up, sometimes they forget each other. “Can you tell us approximately what date you were on the hill?” asked Philippe Hategekimana’s lawyer to Anne-Marie Mutuyimana, a survivor, on Monday. ” No I can notshe replied. I also don’t know who told my father that the gendarmes were involved in this macre. »

“It’s that face”

Damning testimonies sometimes come from former ailants who appear by videoconference in the pink outfit of Rwandan prisoners, because they have not finished serving their sentence. “The attack was led by Biguma, whom I saw arriving in a gendarmerie van carrying the gendarmes armed with light and large caliber rifles, said Mathieu Ndahimana. Biguma was seated in the cabin on the penger side. »

On Nyamure hill, Valens Bayingana lost his mother, six siblings and a dozen relatives. He was also present and, twenty-nine years later, he formally designates Philippe Hategekimana as the man who, by firing shots at a group of women, gave the signal to start the killing. “He has aged a bit but it was that face,” he said pointing to the accused. The survivor then explained that he had participated in the burial and counting of the dead at the site: “We counted around 11,000 skulls and therefore as many corpses. But some were devoured by dogs. »


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Before his arrest in Cameroon in March 2018, Philippe Hategekimana often covered his tracks. After the genocide, he would have managed to escape to Congo-Brazzaville, where he would have stayed in a convent of nuns, before joining the Central African Republic and Cameroon. With false documents, he arrived in France in February 1999, claiming with the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) to have been a sports teacher in Rwanda. His judgment is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28.

Pierre Lepidi

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