By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
As the trial of 20 terror suspects including Paul Rusesabagira resumed, survivors of the deadly attacks narrated their ordeal and sought compensation citing they were both psychologically and physically affected.
Hearing the victims of the attack by FLN militia, the army wing for Rusesabagina’s MRCD party survived separate attacks in Nyabimata sector, Nyaruguru district, including those suspected to have been from neighboring Burundi through Nyungwe natural forest to Rwanda.
The attacks were carried out in 2018 and FLN claimed responsibility through various channels including the mainstream media.
Survivors are seeking at least Rwf1.6billion worth of compensations.
The case is being heard by the Nyanza district-based High Court Chamber for International Crimes currently sitting in Kigali to allow more people to attend.
Eyewitnesses say that the attacks happened when armed assailants belonging to FLN assaulted civilians, killing two people instantly and injuring many others on separate occasions.
The attackers also destroyed a lot of property, including vehicles that were burnt, citizens’ farms that were damaged, in addition to the looting of businesses and households.
Up to 34 people affected by the attacks in different ways and are all demanding for compensations including loss of loved relatives
Dominic Rugerinyange lost a 25-year-old son during an attack by FLN fighters on a bar he owned in Nyabimata.
The assailants also looted the bar, robbed clients, and also beat them up.
Rugerinyange is demanding Rwf17 million in compensation from the perpetrators of the attack that claimed his son’s life.
Venuste Bapfakurera, a commercial motorcyclist who was in Habarurema’s bar during the night of the attack demands over Rwf5 million in compensations for his motorbike which the attackers burnt, in addition to stealing his money, and committing horrible things before his eyes, including killing the bar owner in his eyes.
Other victims include Viateur Habimana another client sustained head injuries for which he spent two months on medication. He demanded for Rwf5.2 million in compensation for the trauma he went through and time lost without earning.
A number of other affected people whose claims were presented asked for compensation due to various reasons including the kidnap of loved ones, physical torture, looting of foodstuffs and other household property, among others.
Victims are represented by lawyers and compensation is being sought collectively from all the 21 suspects.
“They are one group, and each of them had a role to play in the attacks. While some attacked, others were in offices fundraising for the militia group, others organized the attack and those that were just part of the terror group,” one lawyer said.
Lawyer Yusuf Ndutiye, a survivor of the Nyungwe attacks, which were also perpetrated by the FLN asked for compensation worth Rwf8 million for his car that was burnt, in addition to Rwf2 million for the psychological torture he suffered during the attacks.
He also asked that the perpetrators will pay him Rwf 20,000 every day that the trial takes place. This is meant to take care of the transport costs he incurs to come for the hearings.
It is worth noting that Rusesabagina, who is the prime suspect had withdrawn himself from the hearing saying he does not expect a fair trial. He told the court that he was kidnapped and mistreated while in Rwanda as his rights were not respected as a Belgium national.
The court ruled against his plea and decided to continue hearing in the suspect’s absentia.