Arusha, 9 October 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan ballet Irindiro directed by Simon Bikindi, accused of inciting genocide, was not at the service of the governing party in 1994, stated a witness Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Called by the defence of the artist, which has been presenting its case since 24 September, the protected witness "GCH" was a dancer in this ballet.
The prosecutor alleges that Bikindi performed his compositions during gatherings of the presidential party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), including to its youth wing, the Interahamwe, spearhead of the genocide.
"The Irindiro ballet was a private ballet", stated the witness. "It only went to the meetings to which it had been invited", he explained.
"All the political parties could request its services", on condition of payment, he added.
"When we were invited by other political parties, we went there as well. The Irindiro ballet thus did not work for the MRND ", he underlined.
The witness gave the example of an outing to Butamwa, in the suburbs of Kigali, on invitation of a small political group, the PARERWA (Republican Party in Rwanda).
GCH also indicated that politics did not constitute the main subject of interest of the ballet. "The majority of our shows were those which promoted Rwandan culture and were indoor shows ", he said.
The witness recognized a picture on which he was, next to other members of the ballet, in traditional Intore dancer costume (a performance mimicking war).
He wore a white loincloth at the waist with suspenders made from animal skin and his head was covered with a mane tied with pearls, he explained. Bikindi comes to the proceedings in a traditional dancer costume.
"The selection of an outfit was based on the nature of the performance which we were going to present", the witness indicated.
He said that it happened, in a meeting of the MRND, that the members of the ballet briefly wore a costume with the colors of the party, to perform a song which they had composed in its honour.
The bench, which seems to enjoy Bikindi's music, authorized him play the melody.
The song preached peace, unity and the development of Rwandans.
The witness indicated that when the members of the ballet took part in a political meeting, they did not pay attention to the speeches. "We were busy preparing the following skit", he said.
The witness indicated that Bikindi did not stray away from the band during performances, because it was him who ensured the direction.
The witness also refuted the allegations according to which, at the end of political meetings, the members of the ballet would hunt members of the opposition.
"Once we had finished our performance, we left. There were young children and old people in the group who needed rest. That is a lie ", he affirmed.
The witness was detained in Rwanda for six years "without a legal case", he said. The prosecutor suggested that he was "an Interahamwe" to discredit him. He denied it.
Arrested in the Netherlands in July 2001, Bikindi, 53, has been on trial since September 2006. He is defended by Andreas O' Shea (United Kingdom) and Jean de Dieu Momo (Cameroon).
The chamber which is trying him is presided by Argentinian Judge Inés Monica de Roca, assisted by Cameroonian Judge Florence Rita Arrey and Czech Judge Robert Fremr.

© Hirondelle News Agency