homepage | contact

Dr Ngirabatware's Opening Statement

Please mouseover to stop scrolling text.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA
DEFENCE OPENING STATEMENT
PROSECUTOR V DR. AUGUSTIN NGIRABATWARE
16.11.2010

Mr. President, Judge Bossa, Judge Rajohnson, it is my first time to address you effectively in these proceedings. And I was wondering, as you do: How do you begin to address Judges anywhere about such matters? And the answer is: You do from a basis as a lawyer, but in a case such as this, you must do that also as a human being.

In 1998, I met with some civil rights lawyers and activists of the National Bar Association in Memphis in Tennessee. There is a monument there to the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King. And in part of that museum, it has a section on Rwanda. It has the photographs. It has the testimony of victims, and it has their history. And they make the connection in the Lorraine Motel Museum of how hate crimes anywhere are a world problem, a crime everywhere.

Later that week I met very briefly with the Honourable Eric Holder, the current U.S. Attorney General. It was an unusual morning because it was the morning the American embassy in Dar es Salaam and in Nairobi was blown up by terrorists. And I have never had to go into a meeting to discuss hate crime on a morning where there has been one of the worst examples of hate crime had just occurred.

And one of the things we discussed in that very brief meeting for 15 minutes, because there were other things to do, was the regret of what had not happened in 1994 to prevent one of the worst examples of hate crimes in recent world history. And the thoughts that were expressed there led that U.S. Attorney General to come to the UK and make a significant contribution in the UK, to enshrine, in 1998, our hate crime legislation. So a significant difference was made, in part, I believe, because of his regret for what the American administration did not prevent in Rwanda. And they did that.

And it catches you by surprise when you least expect it, if you care about human life, if you go to the Holocaust museum in Washington, one of the first images you see is a woman of African descent, a 16 year old girl who disappeared in the holocaust and who was sterilized by the Nazis in 1934, forcibly, because they did not want any anyone to have the :”untermenchen” or any "lesser being" to be able to reproduce themselves.

So the connections here are that Rwanda is a continuation of human activity, some of the worse. But it is also an example sometimes of some of the goodness of humanity.

You may not have heard too much about it from the Prosecution witnesses, but you will certainly hear some of it from the Defence witnesses. And you will be impressed when you do.

But my hardest job in a trial such as this is to make some space for my client to establish his honesty and integrity, his thoughts, his feelings, his pain, and the strong sense of injustice that he has when he finds himself in the dock.. But rhetorically: What are the rights of the individual when balanced against the greater needs of international justice and the suffering of a people in Rwanda?

Some would ask whether the conviction of one innocent man is not a necessary evil before the altar of international justice and the natural desire that many people may have for retribution. Is not that conviction justifiable if it helps to maintain stability, security and peace for others who are still at liberty? We would say that the end can never justify the means. To convict an innocent man would abase the concept of international justice and would serve no purpose beyond possibly the temporary expedience of allowing political leaders to cling to power in circumstances where they may find it hard to do otherwise. There is no genocide denial from this Defence. It serves no purpose, and it is not the truth.

The concept my client believes of international criminal justice, holding leaders to account, is a fundamental development of human history, which he supports. It may be, in its application, a flawed concept because it wings in on the basis of political expediency.

Many argue that human rights since 1945, in the context in which we're here, has targeted Africa and Africans with disturbing regularity, whilst avoiding the international controversy that may occur if we put nationals from the United States, Great Britain or France or Israel in the dock. But their day may come. And it is not something that undermines the work of this Tribunal.

Just because we have Africa in the dock today, does not mean to say that we do not establish the principle that these rights must affect everybody.

So if there are those like President George Bush who justify torture, ^water boarding” in Iraq, and are confident enough to write about it and speak on television, it is no less a crime against humanity than those with which you deal with here. But their day may come. Their day may come.

So we recognise, as you do, that as a starting point, on a matter of humility, all of us here are doing this task because people died. I humbly recognise that being here is on the basis of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people being killed. And I humbly recognise that fact.

So any shortcomings here are ones which are at the start of a process where the world seeks to hold responsible those who are our leaders and put them on trial. Many will never face that trial. Many will escape. But it doesn't undermine the principle of trying to do justice if we can. Today, it may well be that the powerful sit in judgment over the powerless. It may well be that the victors are the ones who organise the evidence and the vanquished who are the people put on trial. But that does not necessarily mean it will be the future.

In this context, relevant to my client, is the legal framework. This is the first such Tribunal since Nuremburg; the first. But, comparing the international tribunals that have now been established, is there any reason why, as some may suggest, Africa has a lesser test of justice, should African leaders be able to escape the consequences of their action? No. Should our people expect a lesser standard of protection against crimes against humanity, against genocide, against rape? And the answer must be a resounding no!.

But the equation must be balanced by the fair treatment of the Accused. And if here in Africa, the accused are treated less favourably than the accused in Europe, we have a problem.

The right to a fair trial must mean equal justice for all. Anything less would simply repeat some of the Colonial excesses of which we are all part. There is something also, which places all of us here, and which each one of you, has as our history, and your history. You will know that to be here at all somebody had to fight for what we have. Somebody had to write about freedom. They had to write about human rights. I read the speech that Kwame Nkrumah gave in the Ghanaian parliament and he gave that speech in Accra listened to by Dr Martin Luther King and he spoke about justice. The reason he spoke about justice was because all his ministers had been imprisoned by the British. And that night they came to the parliament building in their prison clothes and they did so to say: Yes, We have made that commitment to show to those who would give our people freedom the price that we have had to pay.

So that legacy whether it be from Franz Fanon or Steven Biko, from Mahatma Gandhi or Jawarlal Nehru, all of these people have spoken about justice and freedom so part of their legacy that you have been given and I have been given is to follow those high standards. Not a lesser one will do. And there are many who may celebrate if an accused is convicted here. And they will say it is justice.

But the reality is there is just as much justice as finding somebody innocent as convicting those you hold responsible. My client is an intelligent and caring man and he is fully aware of the consequences of design the Tribunal, placing it in Tanzania and not Rwanda. As Dr. King said quality and justice do not fly in on the wings of inevitably. They have to be fought for.

So simply calling a Tribunal international does not provide for justice. Any court will only be as strong as the members of it. The stage that was set and the context in which my client was operating, is one that is sometimes forgotten. The world had its eyes on Somalia in early 1994. The world -- most of whom did not know where Rwanda or Burundi was. And the people who counted with the power to dictate the destiny of the world often had to go and pickup a map. But they were looking forward to the elections in South Africa in 1994. And they feared a racial conflagration in Bophuthatswana, in Guguletu, in Khailitsha and up and down the length of South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg and people took their eyes off Rwanda.. So the landscape has been set. The regrets were many.

The legacy of the Tribunal and the direction of it will be written by others and it is not for me to second guess what that might be.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the Truth and Reconciliation hearings spoke of the Nuremburg trials as being victor's justice and leaving many Germans with a sense of injustice. The jury is out and will not come back for many years about whether the people of Rwanda and the region, how they will regard the legacy of these tribunals. But one important is correct: Anything which shows that we do not prosecute everybody, but only prosecute some people, will undermine that legacy. Any conviction of the innocent where the community say they are innocent will undermine that legacy.

One of the disadvantages of the adversarial system, of which I am a victim, is that it rarely deliveries truth. If you want to go to Northern Ireland and find the truth you will generally not find it in a court of law. You will find it from the confessions of the guilty as you did in Cape town and Johannesburg of who did what in Argentina, in Chile, in Columbia you will find the truth in the confessions of those who never faced trial. Wherever you find crimes against humanity very rarely will the adversarial system deliver truth.

Let's not fool ourselves that is necessarily what we are going to achieve here with this caveat. You will hear the truth, and it will be from our witnesses. You will hear details and it will be from our witnesses. You will hear from the suffering and it will be from our witnesses. Dr. Ngirabatware is quite a humble man. He does not fear a fair trial. He does not even fear those who prosecute. And he understands the necessity of holding leaders to account for the suffering of their people. What he fears is an environment where his culpability may be predetermined by others not in this room. Whereby the consequences of what he says will be misinterpreted by others. Interpreted by others! Can I suggest a legal approach and then mention some aspects of about the weakness of the Prosecution evidence. The very first can be whether a witness's account is plausible.

Plausibility
Whether the accounts particularly of the Prosecution witnesses are credible when tested against the ordinary commonsense of the reasonable man appraised the background checks and possessed of the relevant information at the time. If there is a reasonable doubt as to a witness's plausibility, their evidence should be undermined from that point. Many of the accounts of Prosecution witnesses we would submit, are inherently implausible. The minister is accused of hauling rifles and grenades up a hillside. Bringing a truck with machetes and rifles to a local community, a box of grenades for distribution a few days after the shooting down of President Habyarimana's plane.

But let's ask what ministers do? Without being trivial or trite, if we do not suggest that the leaders in western Europe somehow leave their office one day and go and drop a few cluster bombs in Iraq. How should we image how a minister with all that responsibility presumably that the Prosecution witnesses said was a God, then personally take it upon themselves to haul munitions up a hillside. With all due respect, what absolute nonsense is that. We have we submit. A minister leaves the capital to go to an area 180 kilometres away. Nobody sees him go and nobody sees him come back. And with all the important events. All the security concerns, he runs off to a local community and seeks to distribute, not vast quantities of weapons, or pickup the phone and say deliver these things. He personally has to haul them up a hill.

Maybe there are many that would find that a matter that causes some concern in terms of plausibility or credibility. But it does not stop there, because he comes back. According, even to the Prosecution, there is clear evidence that he is back in Kigali at this time. Returning for the inauguration of the interim Government on the 9th of April. But that's not the only time there's a fundamental issue of plausibility. Because we have Prosecution witness who allege that in December 1993, albeit outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, we would say, is seen and heard to give hate speech to large crowds in Gisenyi.

But at the time we will show that he was engaged on the 10th of December in key meetings with members of the RPF in Kinihira. That he was preparing to go to Washington, which he did in December, travelling around the 16th. And that was to prepare the key document, economic framework, political and social framework, agreement between the government of the day and the RPF. What on earth was a minister engaged in the business of the state doing going from the capital at that crucial time to Gisenyi. It makes absolutely no sense, unless it is a complete and utter fabrication by the Prosecution witnesses.

The background to this is that these events do not happen in a vacuum and there is a fundamental contradiction we would say, which is about plausibility. You have international observers on the ground, whose job it was to listen to what ministers were saying, to watch whether there was peace, breaches of the ceasefire, breaches of the de-militarised zone. That was their job.

By February of 1994, we will show, there were over 1,180 UNAMIR troops in Rwanda. They were not asleep. They were not asleep!. If this Minister had been on a roadblock in Gisenyi town, they would have reported it. If he had been addressing and encouraging people to kill and giving speeches, they would have reported it. Those are just a few of the issues of plausibility, which in my respectful submission you should have regard to when you consider the defendant and his witness's evidence and hold up a light to whether these Prosecution witnesses are plausible.

Credibility.
Credibility should be tested carefully according to internationally recognised norms and not some lower standard of proof related to the scale of the Rwandan tragedy or because the recollection of witnesses may be dimmed after the passage of 16 years. These are inherent problems for any Prosecution at this point in time. But they do not justify a lower standard of proof being applied for credibility. Many Prosecution witnesses are the sole witnesses of a particular incident. Without corroboration we submit their evidence should be approached with extreme caution.

On many occasions you would have heard from the same Prosecution witnesses a resounding silence where they never mentioned my client's name in the Gacaca proceedings. Why was that? Did they forget his name? Were they terrified? Or, was it because he was never involved in any of the allegations which they made against fellow citizens in those proceedings?. A witness who was given a script by authorities who are not here will be vague. They will be inconsistent. They lack the ability to give detail and we say there is an inherent pattern in the Prosecution witnesses we could characterize in that regard.

Previous bad character.
In many jurisdictions evidence of bad character is significant for two reasons. It means that a person who has previously been convicted of crimes may be more likely to have committed crimes themselves in the future. It also means that they are less likely to tell you the truth.

In this context, you have some Prosecution witnesses who are amongst the worst you will hear for the convictions and their failure to show remorse. We say such witness must be approached with extreme caution when they suggest the guilt of our client. Particularly where their evidence is uncorroborated by any other source, save possibly for another person who was in prison with them at the time.

Previous inconsistent testimony.
Where Prosecution witnesses have testified, not just by omission by commission and claim others were responsible, we submit that their evidence should be approached with extreme caution.

Identification evidence is unusual here. There is no system to permit Prosecution witnesses to be tested as to whether they are accurate in their identification evidence. The test is that you will give due weight to their credibility of identification evidence solely on a number of factors common throughout the world. The frequency of their observation, their knowledge of the person they saw, the lighting conditions and the significance, or otherwise, trauma or otherwise, of the circumstances of the observation.

And, finally, the period of time between the claimed identification and the identification of my client 16 years later. We would say that for those witnesses who claim to be able to recognise a person 16 years after the event when they have only a superficial knowledge on one or two occasions of seeing that person, is a matter of extreme caution. It can be that those outside of this room who have a vested interest in a conviction can train, can suborn and can provide that identification evidence to supplement the evidence that would otherwise not exist.

There are a number of factors that I have just described, which we say is an inherent weakness to the Prosecution case, and I've only mentioned a few so far. But our witnesses will show that for a variety of reasons the Prosecution witnesses you heard are lying. Not mistaken, not may have seen, not might have got it wrong but they have on a large scale fabricated speeches, the presence of the minister, on some occasions dropped his name into real events, as if he was there. So, yes, occasionally in 1993 he visited the commune to see his relatives. So they have dropped his name and the events in that place for convenience. But our witnesses do know the circumstances of the Prosecution witnesses. They will tell you who they are. They will tell you what they were really doing in 1994, what they have, some of them, done since to encourage the giving of false evidence here. And you will be shocked. You will be shocked!.

There is a saying I take form Dr Martin Luther King, that “the truth crushed to earth will rise. The arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. No lie will live forever” We could not establish those facts in 1999 or 2002, but you have an opportunity to see where the truth lies in relation to their evidence now. Our witnesses are not here because, as may be suggested, they are coerced by some unseen hand, they are not coerced by some unseen authority or anyone. You judge for ourselves but the people we have met are dignified and they come from all walks of life, from the rich to the poor the young to the old. The male to female. The Hutu and Tutsi and everyone in between. But they will be here because they believe in this man's innocence and they will be here because they wish to tell the truth. You had one chilling reminder of an inherent weakness which I seek to suggest is a clue to the Prosecution case.

You will recall on one occasion, Witness AAN was asked did you enjoy the killings? Did you enjoy the killings? This was a witness who had killed 11 men, women and children. He says, not individually, but as parted of a joint enterprise, if you believe that. His answer was: He enjoyed it,“Yes, I did”. What witness of truth can you possibly have, who after all this time is proud to tell you he enjoyed the killing of a fellow human being? How lower than than that can you go? We say that is sometimes a hallmark of the desperation of authorities outside of this room will go to to get witnesses here to found a conviction and present false evidence. They show no morality at all. Any witness, no matter how cruel, no matter how evil, as long as they are willing to give false testimony will do. Remember witness ANAN, remember those words please.

There was a time when you heard that the Minister was meant to have come to roadblocks in Gisenyi. Immediately following the death of the leader Gatabazi and the death of Bucyana. We will show this was one of the worst times in Rwandese history before the 6th of April 1994. There was no movement by any minister in the aftermath of those killings. There was an emergency cabinet meeting which set the order for the day. There was a curfew in Kigali. You have between the 22nd and the 28th of February 1994 a very detailed account by UNAMIR of what was taking place.

And there is not one word about the Minister being in Gisenyi, not one word. In circumstances where they go into detail in what was happening in every préfecture in that place. That is a major point, because at least one witness has my client encouraging men and women to kill and to hunt down Tutsis in the roadblocks in Gisenyi, demonstrations in Gisenyi. Were UNAMIR asleep? What possible report could have missed a Cabinet Minister traveling 180 miles kilometres, to deliver hate speech in the midst of the killings of two senior figures, which was international news. And no report.

No report from Human Rights Watch of that incident. No report from Africa Watch. No report from Radio Rwanda. Absolutely nothing. We say that begs the question: This is evidence when tested against the background information, objective information, which is absolutely false.

You heard, you will remember, the use of the term by several witnesses that the minister was regarded as a “God”. If you ever wondered if witnesses were given a script, then you may wonder when you hear that same terminology repeated by many witnesses. It is highly unusual in any society and among the witnesses that you heard we respectfully suggest it was a scripted line. But that line is interesting. A scripted line is one that is pre prepared and given to you as part of a part in a play but it is interesting and for one minute let's say it was true. That man is of such importance that you would expect there to be reports of that individual's comings or goings. His sayings or his silence. There is not. There is only silence. So for the Prosecution to make that claim there is a problem we would suggest.“The truth crushed to Earth will rise. The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. No lie will live forever”.

The Defence Case
I turn now to the Defence case. In outlining the Defence case we acknowledge in law there is a case we have to answer. And part of the reason for our client giving evidence first is because he is not afraid to do so. It is the first time he can tell his story and he does not wish to have the criticism that you have somehow made up your testimony to fit what your Defence witnesses will say. One of the few things I can even promote from the UK is that. The accused there have no choice, they have to do that. They have to go first. And he will take that as a choice and he will establish his choice because he is confident of his innocence.

Following that, you will have evidence from key figures in this local community. We have the Conseillers of several secteurs who will tell you there was never a meeting at Gatunda school, for example. There was no distribution of weapons in any Secteur, any Secteur,.. by this Minister or anyone else. The odd occasion a weapon was distributed it was to be a specific individual for a specific task and that is all. You will hear from people who are victims who are closely involved according to the Prosecution in the deaths of family members, according to the Prosecution.We say you have no evidence.In fact, you have the opposite. Those family members of victims you have heard in this case will come here and tell you: My client was not responsible in any way. What better evidence can you have than that. The answer is you cannot.

They will tell you that the allegations of distribution of weapons is a fabrication designed to lead to a conviction, by others not in this room. You will have seen the pictures of Kitraco. We have, and you will hear from some individuals who lived or worked at that time in that place. And they will tell you that flag raising, that weapons distribution, that meetings of 700 people are an absolute fallacy. A figment of the imagination of witnesses who came here deliberately to lie.

We have witnesses who manned one of the roadblocks that you heard about. There is a dirt road, which we have walked, going towards Kiroji school .at the intersection with the tarmac road going to the brewery. They will say that they were there. But they were not there to listen to the words of the minister because they never saw him. There was never any distribution at that roadblock of any weapons for the purposes the Prosecution make out. That roadblock, and this is where myth and reality part company. The myth is that everybody in Rwanda who was Hutu supported genocide. That there were no good acts done. No acts of bravery done, of course there were. One of them happened in that community.

The Hutu and Tutsi in that community established a roadblock at that point to protect the Tutsi, men, women and children, or Hutu’s who were associated with them. To protect them from people coming into the area. The account of a genocidal roadblock is a lie which the Prosecution witnesses set out. But the truth is the complete opposite. There was no civilian roadblock at Electrogaz at all. There was a military roadblock for a few days after President Habyarimana's killing.

You will have the account of where the roadblocks were. And yes, some were dangerous. You will have the account of where they actually were and not where an ICTR investigator who was told where they were. And even he got confused. We have the women who are Tutsi who sheltered in the house of Alphonse. You will hear from them. There was never a Minister present, never present in that house. There was never a box of grenades in that house there was nothing brought to that house by the Minister, then or any time. It is a complete and utter fabrication.

Those people were never chased away by this Minister. And I will come to why it is such a lie, a ridiculous lie for a number of reasons. But the best evidence comes from those whom the Prosecution witnesses talk about. The best evidence comes from the witnesses the Prosecution claimed to be with. And they will be here and they will be heard.

There are witnesses who actually attended the funeral of my client’s father, as he did. They will be here to tell you there was never a speech They were there to grieve and to mourn but not to promote gate hate speech. They were there. You have heard about individuals who were killed in the days following the shooting down of President Habyarimana's plane. But again there are family members of individuals the Prosecution named who will say who was really responsible for their murder. You will have that firsthand. And it will not be from anybody with a dishonest motive or anybody who is paid to come here and lie.

Now why would a family member of somebody who has come here and say a minister is responsible. Why would they? The reason is they will come here to tell the truth. There are those in Gisenyi and Nyamyumba commune who know my clients brother Cenge and his brother Alphonse who will say they committed no offence.

No political meetings ever took place at my client's father's house, nor at Cenge’s house nor at the the house of Alphonse, or anywhere in this community addressed by this minister, or anyone else. Disturbingly some of our witnesses will tell you of the efforts by the Rwandese authorities to encourage them to give evidence for the Prosecution falsely.

They tell you of pressure they have faced, on one occasion, whilst in detention. And the sort of inducements, not by those in this room, to bear false evidence against the Minister. You should find those facts shocking because they undermine anything my learned friends for the Prosecution do over there. Because if you have a Prosecution which on the face of it is fair and just but behind it you have a system of political co operation and control it is impossible to have a fair and proper Prosecution. But you will not be told that. Because no Prosecution witness will come here and admit that. But that is what will happen. Shed a light on a place where there is some darkness in the corners which those not in this room seek to cover.

You also have judges who may not have been qualified. They may not have been to law school in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam or Kampala. But they are doing good work. They will be here. And they will tell you where the truth lies and the interpretation some Prosecution witnesses sought to avoid their culpability in those proceedings. And they will tell you of the integrity of the proceedings where they sat in judgement over their fellow Rwandans. You have heard much about the time during which the Minister was meant to have been in Gisenyi but the Prosecution themselves have filed judicial notice demonstrating that he was in Kigali for that time and not in Nyamyumba at that time. So you have a very odd situation where the accused alibi is supported by the Prosecution.

That is a problem. If ever a Tribunal wished to find against an accused, it has first to circumnavigate the hurdle placed in front of it by the Prosecution of where he was between the 6th and 12th of April. And may I for one second take a sidetrack into law. The defence of alibi is for the Prosecution to disapprove. It is not for my client to prove that he was there. And therefore they themselves have put a hurdle in their path. But there are others. There is the security situation in Kigali. There is the record in the French embassy. There are the alibi witnesses that they have interviewed and who maintained their account.

So the suggestion that at the time President Habyarimana's plane is down, this Minister, unseen to UNAMIR, unseen to Human Rights Watch. Disappears and reappears in Kigali unbeknown to anybody is something ridiculous we would suggest, as Tony Blair getting on a plane and going to the middle east and handing out a few weapons and coming back, without anybody making a note of it. These things we would say, not only lack credibility but if you test them against commonsense they are clearly ridiculous.

“Truth crushed to Earth, will rise. No lie will live forever”. And I repeat that phrase because on these issues it has a relevance to what is being decided here. The quality of the Prosecution witnesses I have touched on. They have never accepted any personal responsibility for killing any individual. They were very careful about that. How credible is that? You will hear about witness who tell you the real age of ANAE. An interesting fact. You will hear. You may wonder how a person comes here to tell you that they are a teenager but was considerably younger than that at the time of the Genocide. If an individual is prepared to lie about their age to place them in events in 1994. That is a fact that you may think goes to the heart of their credibility. If you lie about your name, what else are you going to lie about. If you lie about your age, what else are you going to lie about!?

The questions for my client is the ability of any Tribunal to set him free, because we know that politically it would be on CNN news tomorrow. That is the world which we inhabit. A conviction would not. But an acquittal would. There maybe demonstrations that follow that decision. And I was looking for something that would resemble these proceedings in one of the oldest texts we have. The old writings where justice has been one of the first things that people hang on to in any society. And strangely I found it in the Quran, where it says in the ,Quran Surah Al Nisa (4:135) “ O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parent, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor....stand out firmly for justice” ….Quran Surah Al Ma'idah (5:8)“...Let not the hatred of a people swerve you away from justice. Be just, for this is closest to righteousness....”.

Now we recognise it is a mountain to climb for any Tribunal. It is a political mountain to climb. But if it is justice it has to be so. And therefore at every juncture I recognise that being a Judge requires some courage and it requires some integrity. And it may be the case that other people never let you work again. It may mean you are ostracised by your legal community. It may mean that politically you are criticized uphill and down daily. But that should not deter you. And you will know that there were judges in Nazi Germany who spoke out. You never heard from them again because they did not survive the Holocaust those who dared speak out. They were removed from office.
At the height of Apartheid those Judges who spoke out against the unlawful incarceration of the members of the African National Congress for example, were removed from office as they did what was right. So here we say no matter how difficult the task, no matter how great the burden that you face you have that responsibility which is given to you. But that is my client's fear, and his worry, and his concern.

We say that in relation to the victims, we are here for victims. We are not. We are here because of victims. We are because of that, not for them. I never would say that I am here for a victim. They never asked me to be here. They were given no choice. We did not ask the people of Rwanda to vote. They had no vote in that process. We, the international community who could have done more, did not. So when we look to whether reconciliation will happen let me say this: Reconciliation does not happen automatically because we have international justice. It happens if we do justice.

I have met many victims of hate crime from the UK to America to South Africa to Rwanda and they will tell you the same thing. They will tell you they would like justice. They will tell you that they wish the truth to be heard. But not one of them will ever tell you that they want an innocent man or woman to be convicted. So as Churchill said there must be magnanimity in victory and if the Rwandan people can deliver that cannot we, with them experiencing peace, and I say only some peace, then cannot we?

So in my closing remarks, and I apologise if some of what I have said appears direct. But it is not meant to be discourteous it is meant to recognise the context and talk to you as a lawyer but as a human being. And in words that are far more eloquent than I could say, there is this phrase from Dr Martin Luther King which may help you: “In finding justice every valley shall be exalted and every hill shall be made low. The crooked place shall be made straight and the rough places made plain. And all flesh shall see it together. The truth will set you free. Truth crushed to Earth will rise. The universe is on our side. Truth forever on a scaffold wrong forever on the thrown. Yet, that scaffold sways the future and behind stands God within the shadow keeping watch on his own.”

I ask you to take those words with you. With that humanity that comes giving that you power which is given of man and not of God and you will do the best you can. Because all of us will be judged by a higher authority that does not sit in the Hague and when that day comes we have to know that we have done justice. So when we break I would ask you to listen, as I'm sure you will, to my client and his witnesses.

But with the power and authority vested in you goes a responsibility to do a difficult things but the right thing, the courageous thing, to find my client innocent because that is what he deserves and that actually is what the people of Rwanda deserve which is justice and nothing less. Thank you.

D.P.Herbert O.B.E., Lead Counsel, Dr Augustin Ngirabatware

Download the full Opening Statement document.