Arusha, 27 August 2007 (FH) - The first witness for the defence of Joseph Kanyabashi, mayor of Ngoma, in the prefecture of Butare (southern Rwanda), during the 1994 genocide, started Monday the second week of his testimony, which is primarily being conducted in closed session, noted the Hirondelle agency.   

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The prosecutor, the last to intervene, started Monday afternoon his cross-examination. On the stand since last Monday, date of the opening of the defence case for the former mayor, witness D 214 D, is, according to his account, a repented killer who took part in the massacres on the hill of Kabakobwa, in the Ngoma commune.
He affirmed that the Kabakobwa massacres had been committed at the instigation of a certain Jean Semwiza who had defied the local authorities.
According to certain lawyers having followed the closed sessions, the first week of this testimony showed that two Kanyabashi co-defendants, namely the former Minister for the Family and Women's Development, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son, Arsène Shalom Nathobari, intend to undue the defence of the former mayor.
"Their lawyers grilled the witness even if his testimony did not concern them; they have in fact considerably reduced the task of the prosecutor in regards to questioning the credibility of the witness", commented on a member of another defence team.
"It is a kind of revenge because the Kanyabashi defence had also vilified the defence of Nyiramasuhuko and of her son", added the defender who preferred to keep their anonymity.
Kanyabashi was a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the opposition parties to the presidential party of the time, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), which Nyiramasuhuko represented.
In this trial renowned for its slowness and its closed sessions that the chamber authorizes without even requiring justification, also appear two former Butare prefects, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, as well as the former mayor of Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje.
Charged with crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, the 6 defendants have pled not guilty. Kanyabashi is the second to last defendant to present his case. After him will be Elie Ndayambaje.
The chamber is presided by the Tanzanian William Hussein Sekule.

© Hirondelle News Agency