24.08.07 - ICTR/WEEKLY SUMMARY - RWANDAN FORMER PREFECT AND FORMER MAYOR CONTINUE THEIR DEFENCE

Arusha, 24 August 2007 (FH) - The former prefect of Kigali, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, and the former mayor of Ngoma (southern Rwanda), Joseph Kanyabashi, continued their defence this week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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Accused of genocide and crimes against humanity notably for murder and rape, Renzaho, 63, has been on trial since 8 January 2007. He began his defence in May.
 
He has just called twenty five witnesses for the defence. On Monday, he will testify in his own defence, announced to the Hirondelle agency his lawyer François Cantier of the bar of Toulouse (France).
 
Among the witnesses of the week, a former Rwandan soldier who indicated that Renzaho did not have the least power over the soldiers and the gendarmes who killed Tutsis in Kigali in 1994. The witness also refuted the allegations according to which the former prefect would have distributed weapons to the killers.
 
Renzaho, who has pled not guilty, promised "to show proof that the allegations made by the witnesses of the prosecutor are untrue". The defendant intends to prove that in spite of ridiculous means, he tried, while risking his life, to put an end to the massacres.
 
Renzaho affirms that the situation in Kigali had become uncontrollable following the war and the massacres. He points to "the total collapse of the state apparatus and its authority with respect to the population as well as the dislocation of the administration notably in the prefecture of Kigali".
 
Renzaho remained the last representative of the civil authority after the government fled the capital, as of 12 April 1994, in front of the advancing rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
 
It was also learned that a witness for the defence in this trial had to leave Rwanda, where he lived, because of death threats which were made against him.
 
He testified at the beginning of the week, primarily in closed session. As it was the case in the second trial of the week, that of the Butare group (southern Rwanda) in which the former mayor Kanyabashi is calling witnesses for the defence.
 
Beginning in June 2001, the Butare trial is the oldest trial among those which are ongoing at the ICTR. Kanyabashi is the fifth of the defendants to present his defence. He called his first witness this week. The first instance chamber ordered him not to exceed thirty witnesses but he has appealed.
 
Next week the trial of Simeon Nshamihigo will also restart. Former magistrate in Cyangugu (southwestern Rwanda), he has been on trial since September 2006. He started to present his defence last April.

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© Hirondelle News Agency