Rwanda: Contradictions Emerge Over President Habyarimana’s Death.

A new Rwandan witness Émile Gafirita who was expected to appear before a French judges conducting an investigation into the plane crash of April 06 1994 which killed two presidents, has been declared missing since November 13. But as a French magazine Jeune Afrique reported last week, there are grave contradictions between his testimony and those of others who preceded him with what were billed as damning revelations.

The mysterious disappearance of Emile Gafirita in Nairobi, Kenya, a month before his audition, by French magistrates Nathalie Poux and Marc Trévidic, sparked the some of the most disturbing suspicions. The magistrates are probing the plane crash that killed former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian counterpart.

The first problem – neither French judges nor Gafirita’s supposed lawyer knew where he stayed before his disappearance. The name of Émile Gafirita and details about his alleged testimony were passed on to the French judges by controversial French intelligence agent Pierre Péan. Publicly, he presents himself as a journalist.

According to Jeune Afrique, no part of Gafirita’s written submission to the magistrates gives any new information about the plane shooting incident. The submission also contradicts similar testimony given previously by RPF defectors.

Gafirita writes: “we packed the missiles, as we used to do for other types of arms”.
He added: “The vehicle which transported the missiles from Mulindi [the headquarters of RPF, at that time, in North of country] to Kigali, was a Mercedes Benz truck, driven by Sergeant Eugène Safari, alias Karakonje. I was in the vehicle, as well as Sergeant Emmanuel. We were escorted by two vehicles of “Minuar”, one in front, and another one behind us.”

This seems like an explosive testimony, until you review what previous so called witnesses have narrated. Several questions also emerge.

Did he see the surface-to-air missiles? Which type of weapons were they exactly? How did he know that the same cargo had been used later in plane crash? The former sergeant did not give any clues in his submission.

According to Gafirita, the two missiles were clandestinely transferred to custody of a 600-troop battalion of RPF which was then quartered in Kigali “about two weeks before the plane crash”.

However, another RPF witness Aloys Ruyenzi gives different dates. When he was heard by controversial judge Jean Louis Bruguière on May 25 2004, he claimed to have “personally supervised the packing of these two missiles in a truck that contained firewood “, and but then dated the same convoy on “February 1994″.

Abdul Ruzibiza, considered a main witness in the dossier of Bruguière, also gave a timeline completely different from that of the latest witness Gafirita. “The missiles arrived in Kigali at the end January 1994,” wrote Ruzibiza in his much-publicized book – “Rwanda: The Secret History”. That was not the end of the contradictions. Ruzibiza, while appearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2006, affirmed: “the missiles were brought to Kigali in February – If I recall well”.

The contradicting timelines are only a fraction of the distortions among various witness accounts.

Back in 2000, judge Bruguière heard another witness Christophe Hakizabera, who spoke about a cargo of “six missiles”. Bruguière witiness, Jean-Pierre Mugabe, told the controversial investigating judge of how “four SAM-16 missiles arrived in separated spare parts, hidden in truck carrying food”.
Gafirita, Ruyenzi and Ruzibiza, for them counted a cargo with “two missiles”. If they were agreeing on the fact that the “SAM-16” were hidden in food – for one – or firewood – for others – in a Mercedes truck, nothing converges , in their stories.

Concerning names of soldiers who would have participated in loading the surface-to-air missiles convoy, Abdul Ruzibiza – the most prolific in details – provided six names. But he did neither mention Aloys Ruyenzi nor Eugène Gafirita, and yet they are supposed to have been present.

Ruyenzi who claimed, have participated in the operation, mentions two names totally different from those given by Ruzibiza. And both of them deliver a scenario that is incompatible with testimonies of Mugabe and Hakizabera.

Otherwise, no one, among these witnesses makes any reference to Gafirita, who could have been, according to his own testimony – one of three members of the convoy.

Finally, the names given by the missing Nairobi witness, are also contradicting to all the other testimonies.


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