Rwandan soldiers tied to general's shooting: witness

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The attempted killing in Johannesburg of Rwanda's exiled former army chief was orchestrated by well-heeled Rwandan soldiers living in Europe, a witness told a South African court on Wednesday.

Six men went on trial Wednesday for the shooting of Faustin Nyamwasa, Rwanda's former top general, at his home in Johannesburg in June 2010.

Nyamwasa had arrived in South Africa four months earlier, after abandoning his post as ambassador to India, amid allegations of corruption and a falling-out with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

A week before the shooting, one of the accused, Rwandan national Amani Uriwani, said that Rwandan "military men" from Europe with lots of cash and cars had asked for his help "to shoot at a military person", according to witness Kalisa Mubarak.

"He said they are Rwandese from Europe. They also want to shoot another Rwandese," said Mubarak, an immigrant who runs a hair salon in central Johannesburg.

Mubarak told the court that Uriwani said he had been offered 10,000 rand ($1,500, 1,000 euros) to take part in the attack.

Three Tanzanians and three Rwandans have been charged with attempted murder. All six have pleaded not guilty.

The case has strained relations between South Africa and Rwanda, which wants to bring Nyamwasa home to serve a 24-year prison sentence after a military court tried him in absentia on charges of desertion, defamation and threatening state security.

Nyamwasa was tried with three other former top officials who co-authored a document slamming what they said was the repression of freedoms in Rwanda since Kagame's arrival in power in 1994.

He also faces terrorism charges for allegedly masterminding grenade attacks last year in Kigali in the run-up to presidential elections.

Nyamwasa's presence in South Africa has caused diplomatic headaches for Pretoria.

Spain and France are both seeking to extradite him for his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed. He has denied the charges.

© 2011 AFP

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