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Arusha, 23 May 2007 (FH) - Sentenced in trial to 25 years of prison, Colonel Aloys Simba, claimed his innocence on Tuesday evening in front of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), noted the Hirondelle agency.

"I continue to strongly maintain my innocence", declared Simba on Tuesday evening, joining his voice to that of his Beninese lawyer, Sadikou Alao which had pled for the acquittal of his client earlier in the day.

During the 1994 genocide, Simba, a retired officer, did not exert any official military function, but he had been recalled to serve in the armed forces as a person in charge for "civil defense" in the prefectures of Butare and Gikongoro, in southern Rwanda.

"I reaffirm with my last energy that I was never on the alleged crime sites. I was never associated, neither by close nor by far, with these torturers who made thousands of victims ", protested Simba.

On 13 December 2005, the colonel had been found guilty of genocide and extermination for having distributed to the killers the weapons used in the massacre of Tutsis at the Technical School of Murambi and at the church of Kaduha, in his home prefecture of Gikongoro.

"The Trial Chamber resorted only to the lies of convicted prisoners. At the time of their appearance before this Tribunal, convicted prisoners testified to state that they had all come to testify with the purpose of having their sentences reduced", defended Simba.

They came in exchange from a "bonus of denouncement, they were only licensed informers", he ascertained. However, he stated that he "had still not lost confidence in justice".

Lastly, he was inclined in front of the memory of the victims, by leaving in the hands of the magistrates to qualify the "unnamable horrors which Rwanda" knew in 1994.

"The legal qualification of the Rwandan drama should be reserved for specialists. As a layman, I could not specify the nature of this indefinable catastrophe ", he said.

"What is sure and undeniable is that there were many atrocious deaths of men, women, children and elderly. I was upset by this devastating hatred whose brutalities were without limits", he concluded

The date on which the Chamber will render its decision will be announce on future notice.

© Hirondelle News Agency