January 28, 2020

FLN Rebel ex-spokesman Sankara Makes U-Turn on Some Charges


NSABIMANA Callixte a.k.a Maj Callixte Sankara with his lawyer Moise Nkundabarashi in the military court during start of case last year

Captured FLN rebel spokesman Nsabimana Callixte alias Major Sankara has rescinded his guilty plea on some aspects of his 17 charges.

This Tuesday, Sankara was appearing for continuation of hearings as prosecution lays out its case. He is charged with 17 counts including terrorism, kidnapping and forming criminal enterprise.

Speaking in the afternoon from a long day of proceedings, Sankara began his defense by repeating that he pleads guilty to all the charges as he had done during first court appearance, and is seeking forgiveness from Rwandans.

However, Sankara said he disputes some aspects of the charges as outlined by prosecution. For example, Sankara denied having any role in the first attacks carried out by FLN rebels in June 2018 in Nyabimata sector, Nyaruguru district, bordering Burundi.

Sankara told the High Court International Crimes Chamber in Nyanza district that he was appointed spokesman of the national liberation forces (FLN) later in 2018, long after the first attacks.

“I cannot be held liable for attacks in Nyabimata yet I was not in the FLN command,” he said.

With this denial, it means Sankara doesn’t accept responsibility for compensation of victims who have filed petitions demanding for compensation from various attacks.

Sankara also dismissed the prosecution’s narration that he had awarded himself the military rank of “Major”. Sankara told the Chamber that the rank was given to him by the leadership of the Rwandan movement for democratic change or MRCD.

MRCD is the umbrella group bringing together a splinter faction of FDLR militia and other Rwandan exiles. It is led by “Hotel Rwanda” movie personality Paul Rusesabagina and former prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu – both living in U.S. and Brussels.

Together, they formed the FLN as the military wing of MRCD. Sankara was the spokesman until his capture and handover by the Indian ocean islands of Comoros in April last year.

Sankara said today, to amusement in court that if it had been up to him to award himself military ranks, he would have appointed himself “Field Marshall”, the highest military rank.

Sankara also dismissed prosecution attempt to link him directly to all the deadly attacks in which several people were killed and others kidnapped. He defended himself saying he was in the political wing and was not on the ground conducting rebel attacks on villages in Rwanda.

The former loud-talking spokesman also told court that the prosecution is wrong to claim he was among the founders of FLN force. He said that he came later when the FLN was already in place, and that is when he was appointed spokesman.

Sankara also said that after he been appointed spokesman, his deputy was “Captain”, that is why he was promoted to “Major” to be above his assistant.

The case has been adjourned to March 31, when Sankara will continue his defense.

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