The defendant former mayor from Rwanda was also politically active in his German exile. Even the president of the Hutu militia FDLR has supported him.
The trial of the Rwandan former mayor Onesphore Rwabukombe at the Regional High Court in Frankfurt has been continued on 15 March 2011 with the first hearing of a Rwandan witness. Previously unknown details were discussed concerning the political activities of Rwabukombe as a refugee in Germany.
The witness Eric Victor Bahembera lives in Germany since 1990. He did not come as a refugee, but as a student. In December 2008, the computer scientist was elected President of the German section of the RDR (Rally for Democracy and Return to Rwanda) – the exiled party, which has been founded after the 1994 Rwanda genocide in the Rwandan Hutu refugee camps in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) – as political representation of the previous Rwandan authorities, also responsible for the genocide. Meanwhile the exile party FDU (United Democratic Forces) has emerged from RDR, and was not allowed to compete in the 2010 presidential elections in Rwanda. Bahembera is now representative of the FDU in Germany.
Rwabukombe was elected in 2008 Deputy President of the RDR in Germany. This election “took place before 10 December 2008” said Bahembera in court. “Shortly afterwards Rwabukombe said that he could not accept his election, ” recalls Bahembera, “because he had to take care of his own problems.” Rwabukombe had to keep the party work “on low activity due to personal reasons”. These personal reasons must have been his re-arrest on 18 December 2008. Rwabukombe had been provisionally arrested from April to November 2008 while awaiting extradition; the German justice system had then rejected his extradition to Rwanda, however it has taken over investigations against him.
Bahembera first met the defendant in 2002 Germany. “A colleague called me and told me about Rwabukombe” says Bahembera. Upon request of Judge Thomas Sagebiel, he added that the since-deceased colleague was also a former Rwandan mayor. “Rwabukombe was interested in the RDR. He just came out of the bushes and was looking for contact” continued Bahimbera. He had first asked the then-President Charles RDR Ndaraye information on Rwabukombe: “He confirmed that he knew Rwabukombe.” On 30 October 2002 Bahimbera confirmed in writing that Rwabukombe was a RDR-member, as a written certificate presented in the court states but to which Bahembera “cannot remember”.
After joining the RDR Rwabukombe quickly rose in the party hierarchy. “Until December 2009, we met once a year to the General Assembly in Frankfurt, “explained Bahembera. “Where, new members of the German section were also admitted. Rwabukombe came regularly to the meetings.”
As one of his predecessors as RDR-Germany president, Bahembera names Ignace Murwanashyaka. This is the president of the FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), a bastion of Rwandan Hutu fighters and fugitive perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from there they are still fighting against the Rwandan government. In November 2009, Murwanashyaka as well as his deputy Straton Musoni were arrested on suspicion of war crimes in Congo, their process is supposed to begin in May 2011 in Stuttgart.
As Rwabukombe was held in custody in April 2008 in Germany, Bahembera called his former party colleague Murwanashyaka, to ask for help. “Murwanashyaka was earlier in the RDR, so I know him, “said Bahembera.” I called him to get a lawyer for Rwabukombe.” This happened apparently through Rwabukombe’s wife: “I asked Murwanashyaka if Rwabukombe’s wife can get the phone number of the lawyer.”
To pay the lawyer for their Vice-President Rwabukombe, RDR members in Germany, created a solidarity account. “We have raised money for the lawyer,” said Bahembera, there was not much, “only a few 300 €, we have used my account for the money received by Rwabukombe’wife. ” The fact that he himself is said to have donated € 300 alone seems to have escaped his memory. “May be that it was 300, I cannot remember,” he said to a related question by the prosecutor.