Arusha, March 2nd, 2003 (FH) - Former Rwandan Minister for Finance and genocide suspect Emmanuel Ndindabahizi on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that he is an innocent man. “I am innocent and I am waiting for your ruling so that I can leave the detention facility where I have been unjustly thrown in,” Ndindabahizi told the trial chamber .

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The accused was invited by the chamber to make comments after the prosecution and the defence had completed their closing arguments. “Even if I am a detainee, I consider myself to be innocent and think the prosecutor also knows that,” the accused added. He claimed that he was indicted by the tribunal after he fell out with an ICTR investigator he had been dealing with in Nairobi in 1998. Ndindabahizi stated that after the disagreement the person he only identified as Gilbert vowed to fix him and ensure that he spends the rest of his life in prison. “Since I had broken contact with those officers (investigators), the consequence would be to spend the rest of my life in prison,” Ndindabahizi said. He was arrested in Belgium in July 12th 2001 where he had sought refuge. Ndindabahizi, 53 is charged with three counts including genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination and murder). He allegedly perpetrated massacres of civilians in his native prefecture of Kibuye, western Rwanda. He is accused of allegedly organizing, inciting and supervising massacres, including making public calls for the killing of Tutsis in general and certain individuals in particular. The trial is before Trial Chamber One composed of Judge Erik Mose (Norway) presiding, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan (Pakistan) and Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda). PJ/CE/FH (NB'0302ee)