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Former UN Commander In Rwanda Testifies At Genocide Trial - 2004-01-19

The commander of the U-N forces in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide took the stand as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of four Rwandan military officials accused of masterminding the massacre.

The commander of the U-N Assistance Mission to Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, told a U-N courtroom that one of the Rwandan military officials on trial for a number of genocide-related charges had threatened to kill him.

General Dallaire, said Colonel Theoneste Bagosora waved a pistol at him during a meeting in April 1994 and said he would shoot the retired Canadian officer.

Colonel Bagosora was a top aide at the Rwandan Ministry of Defense. The other three accused are the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of a paramilitary battalion based in Kigali, Major Aloys Ntabakuze.

General Dallaire's testimony at a U-N tribunal in Tanzania, is expected to continue until the end of January, according to a court official, Tim Gallimore.

"Whatever Dallaire knows about the work of these individuals in conducting their normal duties as military officers and how they behaved and commanded troops and subordinates during the time leading up to the genocide, I imagine he can comment on those."

General Dallaire commanded more than two-thousand troops in Rwanda from 1993 to 1994, with a mandate to monitor a peace accord the government and the Tutsi group, Rwandan Patriotic Front, signed in 1993.

But, instead of peace, the country was plunged into a brutal civil war following the death of the then-President Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994. An estimated 800-thousand mostly Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed during the massacre.

In a book he published last year, General Dallaire blamed the international community for ignoring his appeals for more personnel to stop the bloodbath.