Arusha, January 14, 2003 (FH) - A defence witness on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that genocide suspect and former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda was not involved in the massacres of Tutsis at his native Gikomero commune, contrary to allegations by the prosecution. GPG, the ninth defence witness and a Tutsi, defended Kamuhanda from accusations that he perpetrated killings of Tutsis at the parish in Gikomero commune saying that the former minister was not present in the commune during the attacks between 12th and 14th April 1994.

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"If he had come to Gikomero during the genocide, I would have known given his position. The population would have been aware and they would have mentioned him," the witness stated. He added that the population at Gikomero gave a unanimous response six months after the genocide when officials from the Ministry of Justice asked them if Kamuhanda was responsible for the killing of Tutsis who had sought refuge at the protestant parish church. They told the officials that Kamuhanda never went there during the war. The witness told the chamber that Kamuhanda's arrest in 1999 surprised the population. " All the inhabitants of Gikomero were astonished to hear of his arrest because they were aware he was not involved in the genocide”, GPG said. In his testimony GPG also indicated that he is grateful to Kamuhanda because he protected his mother during the attacks. " He saved my mother's life," he said. GPG went on to deny allegations by the prosecutor David Moore that a lot of people in Gikomero stated that Kamuhanda was responsible for the genocide and have been scared to blame him or to come before the tribunal and testify against him. The witness also denied accusations by the prosecutor that he had come to testify in favour of Kamuhanda after being promised 50,000 Rwandese Francs. "You have been offered the money by certain parties to state that Kamuhanda was not responsible for the atrocities" the prosecutor told the witness. "I can swear that I have not received a penny from anyone, I was moved by the desire to speak the truth…" the witness replied. The trial continues on Wednesday before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). PJ/CE/FH (KH0114e)