Gacaca court is told how ‘Hutu Power’ was planned

Saturday September 06 2008
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Mukama Tharcisse, one of the survivors of the 1994 genocide, at the memorial of the genocide in Nyamata. Photo/FILE

Joseph Nzirorera, currently on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), directed, in November 1993, a meeting to launch “Hutu Power,” a radical faction allegedly intended to gather all the Hutus in each political party.

This was explained publicly — during Nzirorera’s trial before a gacaca jurisdiction — by Grégoire Nyirimanzi, an advisor in the Nyakabanda sector, in Kigali, during the genocide.

“Around November 1993, explained Nyirimanzi, the general secretary of the MRND, the party of President Juvénal Habyarimana, directed a meeting at the Baobab Hotel to explain to us Hutu Power and its implantation in all the political parties. The message was that the Hutus were to rise as one against the Inkotanyi enemy and all his acolytes.”

At this meeting, whose participants were selected, according to the witness, Nzirorera was accompanied by the Minister of Commerce and member of the Liberal party (LP), Justin Mugenzi, and Froduald Karamira, who came from the Democratic Republican Movement (MDR).

Mugenzi is on trial at the ICTR, whereas Karamira, convicted by a Rwandan court, was executed in April 1998.

Then collector of communal finances at the Nyamirambo market in Kigali, Nyirimanzi was promoted to the position of adviser of the Nyakabanda sector.


The allegations against him are numerous: planning meetings of the genocide, murder of all the people killed in Nyakabanda, including Spéciose Mukakimenyi and her children, creating a list of Tutsis to be killed, sensitising and follow up on the progress of the genocide, detention and distribution of weapons.

In addition to his participation in the birth of the radical Hutu Power movement, he lived by the genocide ideology; the defendant admits to his mobility between April and July 1994.

He also confesses to not having been able to do anything for all the victims, but rejects any responsibility in the murders.

“I was not present at the moments and places of these crimes,” he said.

For the two months that his trial has lasted, Spéciose Mukakimenyi, who Nyirimanzi is accused of having attempted to kill and who survived after 6 years of hospitalisation, does not miss one hearing of the trial, in spite of her injuries. Supported by her crutches, she confided to the media:

“My children were sequestered at the office of the sector and were killed by Grégoire. He must answer for it!”

Nyirimanzi’s co-defendants include Hermann Rushigajiki, a former collaborator of the former prefect of the city and Tharcisse Renzaho, who is waiting for a verdict at the ICTR.

All the co-defendants testified against him. In addition to the crimes which he is formally accused of, all accused him of having created “a network of corruption and intimidation, a structure of false charges to accuse scapegoats that we acquitted for the most part,” confided a gacaca judge.

Unperturbed during most of his trial, the former adviser is now worried. “Let us leave quickly from here, I see some who can stone us,” he told prison guards recently after a trial session. Asked by the press the reasons for his fears, he said: “One never knows.”