28.08.07 - ICTR/BUTARE - A WITNESS STATED THAT KANYABASHI DID NOT HAVE ANY MORE AUTHORITY IN 1994

Arusha, 28 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, stated Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the defendant did not have any more authority during the massacres.   
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On the last day of his testimony, the witness D 214 D, indicated as such to protect his identity, was cross-examined for the prosecution by the Tanzanian Holo Makwaïa.
 
"The burgomaster (mayor) did not have any more authority. It was the soldiers who gave the orders everywhere. Kanyabashi could not sanction the criminals ", testified D 214 who presented himself as one of the authors of the Tutsi massacre on the Kabakobwa hill in the commune of Ngoma on 22 April 1994.
 
"Actually, the attackers were stronger; the administrative persons in charge did not have any more authority; Kanyabashi could do nothing", stated the witness, refuting the allegation according to which the defendant would not have done anything to prevent the Kabakobwa massacre, nor to punish the persons responsible.
 
According to him, Tutsis who had believed to have fund refuge in Kabakobwa were killed by hundreds of civilians marching behind approximatively twenty armed soldiers.
 
The witness who currently lives in Rwanda recognized before the courts of his country his role in the genocide. He is free today.
 
Prosecuted for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, the former mayor of Ngoma is on trial with five other accused including the former Minister for the Family and Women's Development, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman to have been indicted, to date, by the ICTR. All have pled not guilty.
 
Opened at the end of June 2001, this trial is renowned for its slowness.
 
ER/PB/MM

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