Arusha, April 22, 2002 (FH) - Genocide suspect and Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerard Ntakirutimana were never involved in any political activities before and during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a defence witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. "Politics was taboo to him", the protected witness only identified as "Witness 23" said of Pastor Ntakirutimana.

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"Gerard was also never involved in politics", he added. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78 was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church mission at Mugonero in Kibuye. He is jointly charged with his son Gerald Ntakirutimana, 45. Gerard was a medical doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The prosecutor, among other accusations, alleges that the two planned and presided over killings of about 6,000 Tutsi refugees in the Mugonero complex during the genocide. 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. Witness 23 also said that, during the genocide, pastor Ntakirutimana had been so emotionally affected by the killings that "he lost a great deal of weight and you could see that he was grieved". The prosecution alleges that pastor Ntakirutimana drove around in his car during the genocide transporting militias and soldiers to Tutsi hideouts. The witness further said that the Ntakirutimanas had never been to Bisesero hills, site to killings of Tutsi refugees. The prosecution contends that the Ntakirutimanas actively participated in the killings of Tutsis in Bisesero hills. Witness 23 continues his testimony on Tuesday before 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. GG/FH(NK-0412e)