Things came at standstill in the Brussels Court of Assizes as a witness, Primitive Uwimana, the wife to Seraphin Twahirwa appeared in court to testify in the genocide case where the husband is defendant.
Twahirwa is accused to have personally participated in the killings and led interahamwe militia in the massacre of the Tutsi in 1994 Genocide especially in Karambo, Kicukiro district.
Witnesses said a lot about the wife, whom, allegedly ended up a wife of Twahirwa, not willingly, but because the man in court raped her, took her for wife and warned the in-law family that he would exterminate them, would they dare to claim their daughter back.
In previous interrogations, the wife who currently resides in Kenya herself testified against her husband, saying that he got her out of rape and she had no choice if not to stay, because “Twahirwa was brutal and would do anything to anyone who would dare oppose him.”
The wife would have also testified that the husband “was champion of raping the Tutsi women to an extent that she would come boasting of it, in front of her own wife.”
Also, Twahirwa in earlier defense, he said that “her wife was not normal because she would accept to take children that I brought outside the marriage.” This statement intended to convince court that her wife’s testimony was not to be taken serious.
When Twahirwa and wife fled to Goma in 1994, they separated and wife ended in Nairobi-Kenya “for survival” while the husband ended in Belgium.
Appearing in court today, the wife who was clad in official garments, told the court that she was not comfortable to speak in public, that they should allow to speak in camera.
The little she managed, was to say her address, but all stopped before the audience could know whether she would proceed and accuse her husband or could change her mind.
From her Gitarama prefecture birth place, Uwimana does not recall well when she left to Kigali, but she could remember that she was 18-19 years old.
“Twahirwa Seraphin is my husband and we were legally married with three children,” the 53 year old wife started .
Compared to previous interview when she said that she became Twahirwa’s wife out of rape, today Uwimana said “We met at my elder sister’s in Kigali, became friends, got married and had children.”
Earlier testimonies however had it that Uwimana’s elder sister, elder brother and even mother opposed this marriage, because the “bride” herself did not consent to this marriage.
However, Twahirwa would have warned that her in-laws would be severely punished, would they oppose his plan.
Uwimana declined having talked to her husband for many years now, that she only lately talked about Twahirwa when an investigator called her to testify.
“Even there, I was being interpreted by my daughter, because the investigator was an English speaker,” she said.
Uwimana revealed that she is now still with one of the three children while the two others are nowhere to be seen because they left her, following, but not limited to a case of mental disease that one of them suffers from.
The court asked Uwimana whether she has a problem with the child who left in the last five months to an extent that she could know their hereabouts.
At that level, the wife became reserved and reticent.
“Those questions around my children, I don’t want to answer them, unless in camera,” she said.
“Those are general questions though,” the presiding judge said.
“Yes. But they are questions around my own children!”
To make her point home, Uwimana further told the court; “All those people here hail from my country, and some of them are my relatives.”
From these words, the civil parties and the prosecution created a camp while the defence created another and the two camps locked horns.
The prosecution maintained that Twahirwa called his wife in Kenya over 1000 times before the proceeding of the trial, telling her to say that they never met talked, that she could resist giving a testimony, among others threats.
They maintained that she has to witness in public, that the intention to seek to go in camera comes from the husband who “threatened her.”
“If you may, the court can even check now the phone of Twahirwa. Even before this audience they spoke,” said a lawyer from the civil parties.
The defence maintained that the witness was being harassed and should be protected to the maximum and “they should even change her hotel tonight. She cannot feel at ease with other witnesses.” They maintained that she should be heard in camera.
Parties in the trial exchanged bitter words until the police unit in charge of protection of the building and the witnesses came on alert.
The presiding judge decide to suspend the hearing until tomorrow where they will rule over the witness being held in camera or in public.