Arusha, 31 August 2007 (FH) - The former prefect of Kigali, Tharcisse Renzaho, was called to the stand this week to defend himself against charges of genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   

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Renzaho, 63, denied his participation in massacres. The defendant stated that he had on the contrary used the ridiculous means at his disposal to try to help people that were in danger.
Renzaho also refuted the charges concerning the order which he would have given to set up roadblocks on the roads of the prefecture of Kigali with an aim of intercepting, identifying and killing Tutsis.
These orders would have been given, according to the prosecutor, to active and demobilized soldiers, gendarmes, the militiamen, the local population and other people.
The former prefect also denied having distributed weapons to the attackers.
Renzaho is accused of having taken part in slaughters in at least three places in Kigali, notably in religious buildings. He is also charged with rapes.
Renzaho declared that he rejects the massacres and rapes that were committed, he said, by individuals that he did not have any authority over and regretted that he lacked the means to prevent these acts.
"I infinitely regret all these misfortunes which happened to Rwanda and I think that these experiences will serve human kind", Renzaho stated.
"Please your tribunal that it can place solid stakes to reconcile the Rwandan people", he said to the judges at the end of his main questioning.
The tribunal also continued this week the proceedings in the case of Siméon Nshamihigo, a former magistrate in southwestern Rwanda, accused of genocide.
Nshamihigo has been presenting his defence case since April. He should finish on 21 September. He still has sixteen witnesses, out of forty, to call.
Besides the trials of Nshamihigo and Renzaho, proceedings were held in the Butare case, an area of southern Rwanda, six natives from there are jointly accused of genocide. Among them is the only woman held by the ICTR, former Minister for the Family and Women's Development Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, on trial with her son.
The week's proceedings were held for the most part in closed session. It is the former Mayor Joseph Kanyabashi, second to last in the order, who is calling witnesses. He has thirty on his list. The appeal chamber recently rejected his motion to call more.
To these three trials will be added next week the case of Emmanuel Rukundo, a catholic priest accused of genocide. The last hearing goes back to July 31. The defendant was calling witnesses for the defence, he will be continuing.


© Hirondelle News Agency