Rwandan woman says Munyaneza raped her, killed many others
The witness known as C17 ran from one scene of horror to another in the midst of the Rwandan genocide before Desiré Munyaneza raped her, the woman testified Tuesday at a landmark Canadian war crimes trial.
From her village, where dogs gnawed on her mother's body, to a pit where bodies were stacked, C17 was beaten and watched men hack others to death.
The woman narrowly escaped death more than a half-dozen times, only to be used as a sex slave, according to her testimony.
The Tutsi woman became the prisoner of a Hutu militia and described how men, including Munyaneza, repeatedly raped her and several other women.
"Those who were dead were lucky," C17 testified.
"My biggest problem was that they kept putting off killing me."
While other witnesses have linked Munyaneza to several rapes and killings, C17 was the first of his alleged victims to testify at the trial.
Munyaneza, a Toronto resident before he was arrested and charged under Canada's new war crimes act in 2005, sat impassively in the prisoner's box as the soft-spoken woman identified him as one of her attackers in the spring of 1994.
Munyaneza, 40, came to Canada in 1997.
He faces seven charges including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In 100 days of violence in 1994, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 of Rwanda's Tutsi ethnic group.
C17's ordeal began on April 6, 1994, with the death of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash.
Within hours, barricades went up in her neighbourhood near the city of Butare and Hutu militia members began burning Tutsi homes.
The witness sought refuge in a home with 16 family members.
She described how some were lured away with promises of security while others were dragged off. Most remaining survivors were killed in a final slaughter of machetes and nail-spiked clubs.
C17 was spared when a Hutu militia member picked her to marry his son, she said.
When the militiaman's family rejected her, she said she spent days on the run and ended up a prisoner and sex slave at a local government house.
The woman says she was offered up as a gift to Munyaneza by a Hutu militia member.
"He undressed me, made me lie on the ground, and then he had his way," C17 recalled during emotional testimony."Desiré raped me."
The woman added that Munyaneza raped several other women and hacked Tutsi men to death.
The woman said after weeks of near-starvation and witnessing horrors, she offered no resistance the four times Munyaneza took her to run-down homes to rape her.
Several Rwandan women have testified to seeing Munyaneza attack others, however details such as dates have been sketchy at times.
C17 and others described being in line for execution and suddenly being spared. C17 described watching Munyaneza rape a woman as her baby lay nearby.
The witness eventually took refuge at a nearby soccer stadium with thousands of Tutsis.