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Arusha, March 6th 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan genocide effectively started April 9, 1994, with the massacres in the church of Gikondo in Kigali, where Tutsis were separated from the rest of the population before being killed, affirmed Allison Des Forges, historian and human rights activist, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).These people, selected on an ethnic basis, were killed by soldiers, policemen, and militiamen, she explained to the Chamber in charge of trying the former prefect of Kigali, Tharcisse Renzaho. When the assassinations in Kigali multiplied after the death of the president three days before, caused by the downing of his plane, “there was no longer any doubt,” she said.This genocide, which caused the deaths of 800,000 victims according the United Nations, and a million according to Kigali, essentially targeted persons belonging to the Tutsi ethnic group as well as moderate Hutus. It lasted until the end of July when the RPF defeated the Rwandan army.Allison Des Forges, who is the official in charge of Africa in the American organization Human Rights Watch, was invited to testify as an expert witness by the prosecution, which has presented its evidence since January 8. She explained to the Chamber that Renzaho had a large responsibility in the system termed “civil self-defense” put in place during the genocide.According to Des Forges, the prefect, in several radio declarations, thanked the youth for its “laudable” efforts in “identifying the enemy.” He appealed for the erection of barriers through which Tutsis could be killed. At several points, she explained, the United Nations representative on site denounced the prefect’s position as having a “double language.”In May and June, Renzaho also intervened to put an end to uncontrolled looting, which targeted not only the property of assassinated Tutsis, but also that of Hutus who escaped. This divvying up created unnecessary tensions which he tried to contain, she said.PB/AT/KD© Hirondelle News Agency