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First Test for War Crimes Law

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by becvan, Oct 3, 2007.

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  1. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    First test for war crimes law
    Former Toronto resident accused of genocide during Rwandan war

    MONTREAL — Former general Romeo Dallaire gave a chilling account Tuesday of how roadblocks popped up like mushrooms and served only to pick out and murder Tutsis in the 1994 Rwandan massacre.

    Dallaire testified at the Canadian war crimes trial of former Toronto resident Desire Munyaneza about how roadblocks run by government-backed militia served no military purpose. Munyaneza’s trial is the first test for Canada’s 2000 war crimes law.

    "It was simply there as a tool of ethnic cleansing, Dallaire testified in Quebec Superior Court.

    "There was no military or technical value, he said. "it was purely to destroy human beings.

    Munyaneza is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Butare region of Rwanda.

    While Dallaire and Munyaneza never appeared to cross paths, prosecutors must establish Munyaneza took part in a "widespread or systematic attack directed at a particular ethnic group to prove genocide and crimes against humanity, according to the untested 2000 Canadian war crimes law.

    Several witnesses earlier in the trial described Munyaneza as a ground-level leader in a militia group that raped and murdered dozens.

    Dallaire testified how rape and murder spread across the country, perpetrated by members of the Interahamwe militia, a unit of which several other witnesses said Munyaneza was a leader.

    He described finding stacks of half-burnt Tutsi-only identity cards at the scene of massacres, pointing to the ethnic motivation behind the countrywide attacks.

    Dallaire said hundreds of Tutsis would be allowed to seek refuge in churches, where they would be penned in and slaughtered — sometimes over several days.

    Dallaire, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his days in charge of the UN effort, recalled confronting a Rwandan Hutu miltiary commander over the roadblocks.

    The barricades, often separated by only a few dozen metres, were often moved after bodies were stacked too high, Dallaire said.

    Early in the slaughter, Dallaire says he confronted Col. Theoneste Bagosora over the roadblocks but got no response.

    Bagosora was later identified as a leader of the massacres and is awaiting a verdict in his own war crimes trial in Arusha, Tanzania.

    Dallaire testified at his trial several years ago.

    Dallaire described how he he "saw, smelled, touched, moved, stepped over thousands of bodies during the 100 days of killing in the spring of 1994.

    It’s a story Dallaire has repeated hundreds of times in speeches, interviews, books and movies.

    Dallaire, now a senator, spoke clearly and forcefully in his first genocide testimony in a Canadian criminal court but appeared to tire and slouch slightly as the day went on.
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