Arusha, 3rd June (FH) - Addressing the judges on Friday at the end of his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, accused of being "the mastermind" of the genocide, said that he his a victim of the propaganda of the current Rwandan regime.

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"I was and I remain a victim of pitiful propaganda from the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, former rebel group that is currently in power), declared, standing behind his lawyers, the former chief of staff of the Ministry for Defense.

"I did not kill anyone, nor did I give any order to kill anyone (...) Only you can rehabilitate me in society", protested the principal defendant at the ICTR before his three judges.

The most prominent prisoner of the ICTR, pink silk tie on a pink shirt, asked "all goodwill men to release him from the intoxication of this propaganda, believe (him) and help (him) make the truth shine on the events which darkened Rwanda from 1990 to now".

"I kneel myself before all the victims of this human madness that has no precedent (...) I share the pain of all those who lost theirs lives in this tragedy which does not seem to finish", he continued, on the same reflected tone.

He was followed by the former military commander of the Gisenyi sector (northern Rwandan), Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, handcuffed, for the circumstances, as was Bagosora, in an impeccable suit.

Claiming his innocence, Nsengiyumva was said "struck" by the allegations that carry against him, "of these irreal stories", he said.

He is accused of having been the principal supporter of the Tutsi massacres in Gisenyi.

He finally addressed his thoughts "to all the survivors, whether they are Hutu or Tutsi, even to these Twas which no one ever talks about".

The two other accused in this trial, the former chief of military operations at the chief of defense staff for the army, Brigadier-General Gratien Kabiligi and the former paracommando battalion commander, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, did not speak.

These interventions mark the end of this week which was devoted to the hearing of the closing arguments in this trial that began in April 2002.

During this trial, there were 408 days of proceedings, 242 witnesses were called and 1554 exhibits were presented, pointed out Judge Mose.

The date of the judgment will be announced at a future time. It should be rendered before the end of the year.

© Hirondelle News Agency