Arusha, 5 May 2008 (FH) - The trial of Callixte Kalimanzira, a former high ranking Rwandan civil servant accused of 1994 genocide, opened before the UN Court Monday with the Prosecution alleging that the suspect is key architect of mass killings in Butare Province, southern Rwanda.

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"The accused participated in the genocidal campaigns in Butare Prefecture," claimed the prosecuting attorney, Christine Grahman, before presiding Judge Dennis Byron of Saint Kitts, who is also president of the ICTR.

She further added Kalimanzira, 55, was an influential member of the then ruling National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) party and long term civil servant, who also had the privilege of good education.

"This same power, authority and influence Kalimanzira abused it," she stressed.

"Our evidence will demonstrate that he participated in hate meetings which encouraged killings", stated the attorney, adding that accused had no mercy even on refugees who pleaded for help when killings started on Kabuye Hill, which was site of horrific killings of over 20,000 mainly ethnic Tutsis. "Some refugees pled for help instead he encouraged the attackers to continue killings," she said.

The attorney alleged that the accused distributed weapons such as grenades, machetes, firearms, clubs and spears to accelerate the killings, one of the worst forms of mass slaughter in the modern century. He also ordered road blocks to ensure that no ethnic Tutsi fled the attacks.

The Co-counsel of the accused, Anta Guisse from France, reiterated innocence of her client. Kalimanzira is accused three counts of genocide and has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution started their examination in chief with a protected witness known only by code "BCF" for his safety. The trial continues Tuesday.

The Kalimanzira trial was scheduled to have opened last Monday, but it was deferred because of the difficulties in the composition of the Chamber.

Kalimanzira, an agronomist by training, was director of the rural development section at the Presidency, secretary-general and then, cabinet director at the ministry of the interior. From April to May 1994, he headed the ministry of the interior on interim basis.

The defendant surrendered himself on 8 November 2005 to the ICTR, which had indicted him four months earlier.

Since its creation, the ICTR has tried 35 people while 28 others are currently on trial. Eleven trials are on-going of which four have closed and are awaiting judgmenets.

The UN Security Council has directed the tribunal it must finish its first instance trials by 31 December 2008 .

Six people, detained in Arusha, are still waiting to be tried. Three others are detained in Europe and 13 are still at large.

The UN has estimated that about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter.


© Hirondelle News Agency