Arusha, August 22, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda on Thursday denied being in his native commune ofGikomero (Kigali rural province, central Rwanda) on April 12th, 1994 where prosecution claims he supervised massacres of Tutsis. Prosecution witnesses who testified accused the former minister of having ordered and led the massacres at a Protestant Church in Gikomero and a Catholic one at Gishaka on the said date.

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Kamuhanda who started testifying in his own defence on Tuesday maintained in his chief evidence that he was at his home in Kigali town between April 6th and 18th, 1994. The accused, who testified in camera of his activities between April 7th and 18th, intends to call as witnesses his former neighbours to confirm his alibi. The Chamber heard this evidence in closed session to protect the identity of these proposed witnesses. Kamuhanda also testified at length on his career within the interim government. The prosecution argues that by accepting a ministerial post within the interim government, Kamuhanda adhered to a strategy adopted and elaborated by political, military and authorities, to exterminate the Tutsi. Kamuhanda was appointed minister on May 25th, 1994. "I accepted this post because it was the only way of saving my life and that of my wife and children, […] " he told the court. The former minister stated that his refusal to take up the post would have been suicidal. Said Kamuhanda; in this government I tried my maximum to play the role of a figurehead. He added that even former Prime Minister in the interim government Jean Kambanda noted this in his statements to the prosecution. Kamuhanda faces charges on genocide and crimes against humanity. Initially he was to answer nine counts but the Tribunal acquitted him on Tuesday of one count namely conspiracy to commit genocide. The trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. The proceedings were adjourned on Thursday morning until next Monday, to allow the prosecution to prepare on the cross-examination of the accused. BN/SW/FH (KH-0822e)