Arusha, May 10, 2002 (FH) - Genocide suspect and medical doctor Gerard Ntakirutimana told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday that contrary to prosecution allegations, he never abandoned ethnic Tutsi patients during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. "I left the hospital because I had been told by security officers that our security could no longer be guaranteed", said Gerard Ntakirutimana.

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Gerard Ntakirutimana, 44 has since Wednesday been testifying in his own defence. He is jointly on trial with his father, Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, and 78. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church mission at Mugonero in Kibuye. Gerard Ntakirutimana, was a medical doctor at the hospital which lay in the same complex. The prosecutor, among other accusations, alleges that the two lured persecuted Tutsis to take refugee at Mugonero before bringing in militias and soldiers to kill the refugees. According to estimates by the prosecution, 6,000 Tutsis refugees were killed at Mugonero on April 16, 2002. The prosecution also alleges that Gerard Ntakirutimana abandoned Tutsi refugees at hospital. An estimated 1,000,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in the 1994 genocide according to an official census by the government of Rwanda. Gerard told the court that he had never been racist in all his life. "All those who needed my service I would help them. I would handle them as best as I could", said Gerard Ntakirutimana. The prosecution also alleges that Gerard Ntakirutimana participated in the killings of Tutsi refugees in the Bisesero hills during the genocide. Gerard said he had only been to Bisesero hills during the genocide once. "This is a time I was ordered by soldiers to drive them to Bisesero hills", he said. Gerard said he had driven the soldiers to the hills, stayed in the car as the soldiers brought a corpse in into the car and then drove to Kibuye military camp. "They removed the corpse and I was then freed," he said. He denied allegations that he had participated in the attacks on Bisesero or transported any attackers to that area. The Ntakirutimanas say they fled Mugonero complex for Gishyita a few hours before the April 16th, 1994 attack. Prosecutor Charles Phillips suggested that Gerard had "only set base at Gishyita for a week in which you (Gerard) kept going back and forth to Mugonero". The trial is being held in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and judge Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. Closing arguments will be heard mid july. GG/FH(NT-0510e)