ARUSHA, Tanzania -- The former peacekeeping commander during the Rwandan genocide told a UN tribunal yesterday that world leaders allowed the deaths of more than 500,000 people by feigning ignorance of what was taking place.
Retired Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire told the court he could do little to stop the killing because his UN force had a limited mandate and an insufficient number of troops and weapons, and that his appeals for reinforcements were rejected.
He specifically mentioned France, Belgium, and the United States "as being uncooperative . . . I did not get intelligence information from them." Belgium ordered the withdrawal of its peacekeepers, the backbone of the operation, shortly after Rwandan troops killed 10 of its soldiers.
Dallaire was being cross-examined by Raphael Constant, an attorney for Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the alleged mastermind of the genocide, who took control of Rwanda after the president's plane was shot down on April 6, 1994. The killing began almost immediately.
Bagosora, Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi, Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze have pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the 100-day slaughter of Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Dallaire, the 37th person to testify, is considered a key witness.
Dallaire described how the security situation deteriorated in the months before the killing began and how one of the main Hutu political parties, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, or CDR, was based on hatred of Tutsis. He denied Constant's assertion that he was pro-Tutsi.
"I took my decisions independently," Dallaire said.
He also explained how Bagosora hired military instructors from Togo to train Hutu militias to kill Tutsis. He was expected to continue his testimony today.
Earlier yesterday, the tribunal sentenced a former education minister to life in prison for his role in carrying out the genocide.
Judge William Sekule said the tribunal had found Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, 51, guilty of genocide and extermination, but acquitted him of eight other charges of crimes against humanity.