When he appeared in highly publicised court proceedings, and in interview with The Chronicles, Nsabimana Callixte alias Major Callixte Sankara is full of disappointment.
Nsabimana comes out as a victim of a high-level game he thought he knew how to play, but instead may have been played: if at all there was any game anyway.
In interview with The Chronicles, Nsabimana hinted that during his interrogation after capture from Comoros Islands, he had been offered a deal to say it all, and in exchange could get a lenient sentence. He agreed to the proposals.
However, Nsabimana declined to give us the precise details as to what was contained in that agreement, and who exactly was he speaking to. The Chronicles didn’t push the issue during our interview because Nsabimana’s case was scheduled to come up at the Court of Appeal.
Since past two weeks, the Court has been hearing the appeals in the government case against Hotel Rwanda movie personality Paul Rusesabagina with his 20 co-accused. He for one has boycotted the proceedings since the lower court.
Nsabimana is appealing against the 20 year sentence he was handed. He wants the Court of Appeal to give him the lowest possible sentence considering a long list of elements he has outlined.
On the other hand though, Prosecution led by senior attorney Bonaventure Ruberwa also filed it’s own appeal, instead seeking a 25 year jail term for Nsabimana.
During the past week, Nsabimana and the others gave own arguments. Nsabimana says he agreed to “work” with prosecutors, apologized for some of the charges – and therefore the lower court should have put that into consideration when sentencing him.
He also says the field commanders who actually were implementers of the attacks on civilians on southwest Rwanda whose deaths are also blamed on Nsabimana, are not facing prosecution. He says after their capture and repatriation to Rwanda, they were taken to the Mutobo rehabilitation and integration center. He wondered why he didn’t also benefit from same scheme.
Just like in interview with The Chronicles, when it also came to Appeal Court, Nsabimana gave general arguments about a supposed agreement he had with his interrogators.
It appears Nsabimana has sensed that tactic hasn’t worked. In final submissions delivered this Wednesday, Nsabimana told the Appeals bench the details of the “agreement” he had with prosecutors.
Nsabimana claims the Prosecutor General, whom he didn’t identify by name, offered him a deal to turn into a state witness. In the discussions, Nsabimana says was also the case prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa.
Nsabimana quotes the Prosecutor General as telling him: “You have a long future ahead of you because you are still young. Help us to deal with this MRCD-FLN menace. We will ask for the most lenient sentence possible. Remember you are a genocide survivor, remember your family, help your country.”
Nsabimana says he agreed and shared all details about the FLN rebel force which he had founded with others including Rusesabagina. Nsabimana told the bench that he gave details about African leaders that had offered support to FLN.
Much of these details have been published widely in local media leaked by the authorities in Rwanda. In one case, the former president of Zambia Edgar Lungu was mentioned as having offered tens of thousands of dollars.
The scandal was so big the ex- Zambian leader sent his foreign minister to Kigali to meet with President Paul Kagame.
In court today, Nsabimana admitted that the agreement was not written anywhere, but that the Prosecutor General had said government would keep it’s sided of the bargain.
However, in responding to the claims, case prosecutor Ruberwa denied any such deal was ever made to Nsabimana. He told the Appeals bench that under the law, such an agreement would be attached on prosecution submissions.
“The fact that there are no such attachments is evidence enough that no such agreement exists,” said Ruberwa.
It has now become Nsabimana’s word against Ruberwa’s. Many questions remain unanswered and may never get answers.