08.10.07 - ICTR/BIKINDI - BIKINDI, SINGER OF PEACE, ACCORDING TO HIS WIFE

  Arusha, 8 October 2007 (FH) - Simon Bikindi, a Rwandan musician accused of genocide incitement, sang of peace, stated his wife Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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Apolline Uwimana, 51, one of the defendant's two wives, denied the allegations according to which her husband urged the massacre of Tutsis in 1994 through of his works.
 
Explaining that the majority of the accused songs had been composed in a period of war, the witness indicated that "what Bikindi wanted was to invite people to peace".
 
On trial since September 2006, Bikindi has been calling defence witnesses since 24 September.
 
Apolline Uwamariya, who in 1994 had been married to Bikindi for 14 years, declared that the couple had never discussed the inciting massacres.
 
"No, that never came out of our discussions. I am not here to defend him because he is my husband. If I say it, it is because it never happened ".
 
The prosecution has always insisted that the chamber grant little credibility to family members of accused who plead not guilty, arguing that they are subjective.
 
Like witnesses who preceded her, Apolline Uwamariya described the defendant as a man only interested by art and not by politics.
 
She added that Bikindi had several Tutsi friends. She in particular referred to André Sebanani, a well known musician and actor with who he composed radio advertisements that were well liked by the public.
 
This testimony also corroborated the defendant's alibi that he had left Rwanda for a tour in Europe two days before the attack of 6 April 1994, which was the spark of the genocide.
 
Bikindi returned to the country two months after, at a few days only after the seizure of power by the former rebellion and the massive exile of the population towards the former Zaire.
 
Bikindi's second wife, Angelina Mukabanana, a Tutsi, also testified on his behalf.
 
Bikindi was arrested in the Netherlands in July 2001. He is defended by Andreas O' Shea (United Kingdom) and by Jean de Dieu Momo (Cameroon).
 
The trail is before a chamber presided by Argentinian Judge Inés Monica de Roca, assisted by the Cameroonian Judge Florence Rita Arrey and the Czech Judge Robert Fremr. 
 
AS/PB/MM
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