07.12.07 - RWANDA/GENOCIDE - A RWANDAN SENATOR APPEARS FOR HIS ALLEGED ROLE IN THE GENOCIDE

Kigali, 7 December 2007 (FH) - A member of the Rwandan Senate, Nzirasanaho Anastase, will appear Saturday for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, reports Thursday a legal source.
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The senator had already appeared once last Saturday before the gacaca court of the Muhima sector, in Kigali, indicated to the Hirondelle agency a member of the panel of judges which preferred to keep his anonymity.

The semi-traditional Rwandan gacaca courts are charged with trying the majority of the alleged authors of the genocide which resulted, according to Rwandan authorities, in nearly a million deaths.

Mr. Nzirasanaho faces murder charges for the death, in April 1994, of one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Théoneste Gafaranga, specified the source

Garafanga, one of the tenors of the opposition to President Juvénal Habyarimana, was chosen by his party to form part of the transition government, which the rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) was also to take part.

On Saturday, the judges heard several prosecution witnesses, including Ignace Nsabimana who stated that the parliamentarian had indicated to the Interahamwe militiamen where Gafaranga was hiding.

The court also heard from Gafaranga's widow who affirmed that Nzirasanaho still speaks ill about the death of her husband.

The judges also learned during this hearing of the mysterious death of two main prosecution witnesses, added the source.

Nzirasanaho, originally from the former prefecture of Ruhengeri, in northern Rwanda, has pleaded not guilty for the murder of Garafanga and the two witnesses who, during the genocide, worked for him.

Before his entry in the Senate, the defendant was a director of the coffee company within the Office of Industrial Crops (OCIR).

Several high ranking officials and Rwandan soldiers were indicted before gacaca courts.

Some of them resigned from their functions, others chose exile; while others were tried and were acquitted or convicted.

ER/PB/MM
© Hirondelle News Agency