Burundi killers 'ready for tribunal'

The Hutu rebel movement which claims responsibility for last week's massacre of Congolese Tutsis at a refugee camp in Burundi says, unrepentantly, it is ready to appear before an international tribunal.

    The Gatumba massacre left about 160 people dead

    "We are never going to present ourselves in front of the Tutsi justice of Burundi... but we are ready to respond in front of an international tribunal," Pasteur Habimana, spokesman for the Hutu National Liberation Forces (FNL) told AFP.

    The "international tribunal would judge all crimes committed by Hutus and Tutsis in the region since the independence of Burundi" in 1962, he said.

    It would have to judge among others Burundi's former Tutsi president Pierre Buyoya and Rwanda's current Tutsi President Paul Kagame, as well as the current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, he added. 

    Burundi has issued international arrest warrants for Habimana as well as the FNL's leader, Agathon Rwasa for crimes against humanity and war crimes following the killings at Gatumba on 13 August 2004.


    The FNL reiterated on Saturday its reasons for going into the camp.

    "We attacked the military camp of Gatumba"

    Pasteur Habimana, 
    Hutu National Liberation Forces (FNL) spokesman

    "We attacked the military camp of Gatumba (near the Congolese refugee camp), the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsis of Rwandan origin living in the camp) gave a hand to their Tutsi brothers of the army," Habimana said.

    The rebel group also claimed to have gone into the refugee camp to counter an offensive by the Banyamulenge against the DRC.

    "We destroyed the headquarters of the Banyamulenge (at Gatumba)... They were preparing also to attack the DRC," the rebel spokesman said.

    Most of the massacre victims were women and children.


    On Friday, South African President Thabo Mbeki appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the massacre at Gatumba camp in Burundi, just inside the border with the DRC.

    SA President Thabo Mbeki has
    called for an intenational inquiry

    Burundi was plunged into civil war in 1993 when rebel groups drawn from the Hutu majority went on the rampage against the Tutsi minority, who make up around 15% of the population.

    Leaders on the African continent have highlighted the reluctance of developed western countries to assist or intervene in Africa.

    An example, as cited by participants at the recent Non-Aligned Movement summit in South Africa, is that nothing has been done by the UN or anyone else regarding the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Burundi where villagers were hacked to death, majority women and children.



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