Arusha, 3 September 2007 (FH) - The trial of Father Emmanuel Rukundo, a former military chaplain, resumed Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with a new defence witness.

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Testifying under the cover of anonymity, the witness refuted the allegation by the prosecutor according to which the catholic priest was an extremist who did not care for Tutsis. He also denied that Rukundo played an unspecified part in the assassinations of Tutsis in the area of Kabgayi (central Rwanda) in 1994. At the end of the afternoon a second witness was called.

The clergyman is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity and has pled not guilty. His trial started before the chamber on 15 November 2006 and the presentation of the defence case began during the previous session in July.

The chamber presided by Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka) recalled that at the opening of this new session that it wanted the proceedings to finish by 5 October. The defence which intends to question the defendant during a week seems to be hesitant.

Of 12 trials in progress, four are currently in proceedings before the ICTR, the one known as Butare, where six accused are on trial together, Siméon Nshamihigo, Tharcisse Renzaho and Father Rukundo.

© Hirondelle News Agency