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Witness in Rwanda general shooting feared for life

Published on 01/07/2011

The state's lead witness in the trial for the shooting of Rwanda's exiled former army chief broke down Friday describing how he feared for his family's lives after the failed hit in South Africa.

Rwandan national Kalisa Mubarak told the court he fled Johannesburg after the June 19, 2010 shooting of former top general Faustin Nyamwasa, which he believes his friend helped arrange.

The friend, Rwandan national Amani Uriwani, is one of six men standing trial for the shooting. The accused — three Rwandans and three Tanzanians — deny the charges.

Mubarak, who is now in a witness protection programme, has testified that his friend Uriwani had told him about his involvement in a plan by Rwandan soldiers with lots of cash and cars “to shoot at a military person”.

He told the court Friday that when he learned Nyamwasa had been shot, he phoned Uriwani and said, “Do you see what you’ve done?”

“He said ‘Please Mubarak, don’t tell anyone’,” he said of his friend’s reaction.

“He was just like very scared.”

Mubarak said he later returned home and found Uriwani and another person waiting there, in a white Nissan truck with no license plates.

“I see that maybe I can be killed to not show the evidence,” he told the court.

Mubarak described fleeing to Cape Town after the shooting, then returning to Johannesburg and hopping from hotel to hotel, worrying his life was in danger.

He broke down on the witness stand telling how he feared for his pregnant wife, lifting the dark sunglasses he has worn throughout his testimony to wipe his eyes with a scarf.

Mubarak said after he helped police find and arrest Uriwani, five gunmen attacked his beauty salon in Johannesburg.

The trial will resume on October 24 and run through November 4, when defence attorneys will cross-examine Mubarak.

Nyamwasa, a former key ally of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, fled to South Africa in February after abandoning his post as Rwanda’s envoy to India amid accusations of corruption.