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Arusha, March 2, 2007 (FH) – The former prefect Protais Zigiranyirazo, called Mr. Z, was defended this week by several family members before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Brother-in-law of the former president Juvenal Habyarimana, assassinated April 6, 1994, Zigiranyirazo, 69, is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. Among the relatives of “Z” who came to testify were two children of the former president, Jeanne and Jean-Luc Habyarimana. The Tribunal also heard from one of the four wives of the accused, Domitille Zigiranyirazo. Their testimonies notably aimed to exculpate the former prefect of accusations of the preparation of a list of opponents to kill and the participation in the massacres of Tutsis at the site – called Rubaya in the west of the country. Prosecution witnesses alleged that the list of persons to eliminate was established during the night of April 6-7 1994 in the presidential residence of Kanombe in Kigali with the active participation of Zigiranyirazo. The Habyarimanas indicated that the accused arrived at their house in the morning of April 7, 1994 and that he stayed until April 10. The prosecution witnesses for their part placed him at Rubaya on April 8. The trial of Zigiranyirazo, who has pleaded not guilty, started October 3, 2005. The Tribunal also sat this week in three other cases, Butare, Rukundo, and Renzaho. The Butare case brings together six defendants hailing from the southern region of Rwanda. They include Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister of the Family and Women Welfare, the only female detainee of the ICTR, her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, a former student at university, presumed chief militiaman, as well as four local officials. This trial, the oldest of those currently pending before the ICTR, started in June 2001. Currently, the third defendant is presenting his defence. The Chamber hopes to close proceedings by the end of this year. Emmanuel Rukundo, a Catholic priest being tried for genocide in the center of the country, has for his part been on trial since November 15, 2006. He has pleaded not guilty. This week, a witness accused him of having kidnapped fifteen Tutsi refugees during the genocide. Rukundo was a military chaplain in 1994. A hearing was also held this week in the trial of Tharcisse Renzaho, former prefect of Kigali city. The prosecution provisionally rested its case on February 7 but Friday was authorized to call additional witnesses. Renzaho has been on trial since January 8, 2007. © Hirondelle News Agency