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Dallaire names ex-nemesis as Rwanda genocide `kingpin'
Campaign well planned, trial told

Kill list proved `ethnic war at hand'


In a packed, sweltering courtroom, Gen. Roméo Dallaire — dressed in a navy-blue pin-striped suit with his Order of Canada prominent on the lapel — was asked by a prosecutor if he could identify the Rwandan army colonel alleged to be one of the architects of the genocide that took 800,000 lives.

Dallaire, who led the ill-fated 1994 United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, rose to his feet, glanced around, then fixed an icy glare on his former nemesis.

"He's on the extreme right, in the last row,'' Dallaire said, pointing at Theoneste Bagosora.

The retired Canadian general told the Rwanda genocide tribunal here yesterday he believed Bagosora was the "kingpin'' in orchestrating a carefully planned campaign to exterminate minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus during 100 days of bloodshed in 1994.

Bagosora and three other military commanders, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi, have all pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors regard Bagosora as one of the key players in the hours and days after the country was plunged into genocide after president Juvenal Habyarimana died in a fiery plane crash on April 6, 1994.

Dallaire yesterday recalled the last time he saw Bagosora, during a chance encounter in late June, 1994, near the end of the genocide, in the lobby of the Diplomates hotel in Kigali."Col. Bagosora threatened me with his pistol that the next time he saw me he would kill me,'' he told the court.

From the witness box, Dallaire turned the tables yesterday, testifying for a total of six hours about his meetings with Bagosora and his assessment that the virulently anti-Tutsi commander put the genocide into motion.

"I had concluded that he was the kingpin,'' said Dallaire, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his Rwanda experience.

While he showed little sign of emotion or distress during his testimony, Dallaire seemed distracted at times and kept stealing glances over to the left-hand corner of the courtroom, where Bagosora, whom he once compared with the devil, was seated. More than once, when a court clerk passed an exhibit to Dallaire for his perusal, the retired general glared at Bagosora.

Bagosora made notes in a large, blue hard-covered notebook. He also referred from time to time to a dog-eared copy of the French edition of Dallaire's memoir from Rwanda. Dallaire also recounted how on April 4, 1994 — only days before the slaughter began — Bagosora reportedly told a Belgian colonel at a diplomatic reception that the only way to solve Rwanda's problems was to get rid of the Tutsi.

Dallaire said Col. Luc Marchal told him a drunken Bagosora raged against Tutsis and indicated "that war was at hand and a final solution was going to happen ... clearly indicating an ethnic war was at hand.''

Prosecutor Drew White, a Canadian lawyer, led off the questioning yesterday and is expected to continue all day today.

The Canadian general testified that Bagosora was in charge of a military "crisis committee'' meeting that took place within hours of the Rwandan president's death.

Still in civilian clothes, Bagosora "was clearly in charge'' and prevailed over the officers present, Dallaire said. Bagosora, he added, rejected outright the suggestion that prime minister Agathe Uwilingimana should take power.

"Col. Bagosora said that, in essence, she had no authority.''

Dallaire said he spoke to the prime minister on the phone that night, trying to arrange for her to make a radio address first thing in the morning. But within hours, Belgian soldiers protecting her home had been taken away and massacred and the prime minister hunted down in a nearby compound and killed, along with her husband.

Dallaire told the court he visited the spot where she had been murdered the next day.

"She had been killed right there, I mean, there was blood,'' he said. "Her children ... were in another house hiding in a closet with clothes over them. They had been saved.''

Referring to pictures taken at the time, Dallaire said the day after the president was killed, Bagosora abruptly switched from his civilian clothes into crisp new military fatigues.

"He in fact reverted to a (army) uniform in the rank of colonel from the morning of the 7th of April,'' Dallaire said.

When he burst in uninvited on a larger meeting of the military command, again chaired by Bagosora on the morning of April 7, "it was clear that Col. Bagosora was giving instructions and direction.''

Dallaire said he tried to get Bagosora to intervene to help the Belgian soldiers, who had been taken to nearby Camp Kigali, where he learned later they had been butchered.

But Bagosora said "the camp was in absolute chaos and none of the officers could get control,'' Dallaire recounted. "He categorically refused me to go to that camp.''

The Canadian general said his own situation reports told him Presidential Guard units were already "wreaking havoc in the city ... and some of them even had a list and (were) killing the people therein.''

But Bagosora told him the guards were hard to control because they were acting out of anger at the president's death and rumours the Belgians were somehow involved.

Dallaire testified he left the meeting convinced Bagosara was pulling the strings.

"What I found incredible was I had never found someone so calm and so at ease with what was going on," Dallaire said. "He shuffled some papers and signed some documents."

Dallaire said he could only conclude that Bagosora was either on "another planet," oblivious to the mounting chaos, or was so calm because the carefully laid plan to exterminate the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutu, who were willing to share power, was unfolding.

"It was surreal ... (I concluded) they were implementing a plan that we had heard so much of from a variety of sources.

"It dawned on me then that the plan was moving."

Dallaire was also asked about an anonymous letter he received on Dec. 3, 1993, apparently written by moderate Hutu officers, who warned of a "Machiavellian plan'' to plunge the country into chaos and exterminate specific individuals. Many of the people identified in the letter as targets were killed in the first hours of the genocide.

Looking back, Dallaire said that letter now seems like "a rough draft of what happened after April 6.''

Today Dallaire is expected to testify about the secret informant who warned in January, 1994, that death squads were compiling lists and training to kill thousands of people a day.

When Dallaire told U.N. headquarters in New York he planned to raid the arms caches of the death squads, he was told not to take any military action, that he had to remain neutral.


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