09.07.07 - ICTR/RUKUNDO - FATHER RUKUNDO NOT RESPONSIBLE OF THE "CND" MASSACRES-WITNESS

  Arusha, 9 July 2007 (FH)-A witness said Father Emmanuel Rukundo is not responsible of the massacres of Tutsis in the area nicknamed "CND", Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).    
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Emmanuel Rukundo, 48, was a military chaplain in 1994 and is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the central Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty.
 
The first defence witness cleared him of the massacres and of the abduction of Tutsis in the "CND" in Kabgayi.
 
French acronym for Parliament under former President Juvénal Habyarimana, the CND sheltered a battalion of the former rebellion dominated by Tutsis of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) installed in Kigali at the end of 1993 following the signature of a peace agreement with the government.
 
During the genocide, several areas where endangered Tutsis had taken refuge had been nicknamed "CND".
 
In Kabgayi, it was in the abandoned buildings of a former commercial co-operative financed by the Swiss co-operation, TRAFIPRO, that it was referred to, when speaking about "NCD".
 
The ICTR Prosecutor accuses Rukundo of having gone on several occasions, in particular to the "CND", between April and July 1994, "as he sought Tutsis to kill".
 
The protected witness "CNB", a Tutsi survivor of the "CND", stated that Father Rukundo had never gone to this place during the massacres. "No. He never presented himself at the CND ", he stated.
 
CNB, who lost several members of his family during the genocide including his wife, explained to the tribunal, the reasons which motivated him to come and clear the priest. "I wanted to speak about what I saw and I wanted to tell the truth of what I lived", he stated; adding that he had agreed to testify without any constraint or promise of reward.
 
The witness, who expressed himself in his mother tongue of Kinyarwanda, completely swept aside all the allegations of the Prosecutor; in particular, the allegations that the accused was present at the CND at the time of a visit of Prime Minister Jean Kambanda. The visit would have been followed by massacres and abduction of Tutsis.
 
CNB indicated that the Prime Minister had actually come to the CND during the events; but was only accompanied by his guard. He added that no attack had taken place in the days that followed this visit.
 
Jean Kambanda was convicted to the life in prison by the ICTR after having pleaded guilty to genocide.
 
CNB also estimated that a witness who had implicated Rukundo in the abduction  of Tutsis at the CND had told "lies".
 
The priest's defence had announced that it will call approximately 42 witnesses. The lead Counsel, Aicha Condé (France), has, however, declared that several witnesses had desisted following the arrest in Rwanda of a defence investigator, Léonidas Nshogoza.
 
"Each time that there is a line in the press on the arrest of Nshogoza, there is a witness who says that it is difficult to come and testify for the defence of Rukundo", regretted Condé.
 
Three other priests have been so far indicted by the ICTR.
 
AT/MM
 
© Hirondelle News Agency