Arusha, 3 May 2008 (FH) - A witness who came to testify for Hormisdas Nsengimana admitted Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the priest, then rector of the school, had not sanctioned students who had hidden machetes under their beds in 1993.

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These traditional weapons were used during the 1994 genocide, which resulted, according to the UN, in 800 000 people killed, primarily ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Head of the Christ the King College in Nyanza ,southern Rwanda, in 1994, the 54-year-old clergy, is accused of genocide, murder and extermination, crimes which he has pleaded not guilty.

"They (the student who had hidden the machetes) were not expelled, nor suspended", he recalled who is a protected witness.

"We did not considered to be necessary to discuss it; because Nsengimana informed us that things had returned to normal", added the witness who taught at the Christ the King College.

The witness, second of Nsengimana's defence, was being cross-examined by Burundian Sylvere Ntukamazina of prosecution team.

During his testimony earlier in the day by Emmanuel Altit, lead counsel of the priest, he stated that Nsengimana had treated all his students and professors without any discrimination.

The clergy began his defence Monday.

According to the indictment, Nsengimana allegedly manifested his hatred of Tutsis a long time before the genocide that took place from April to July 1994.

During the massacres, claims the prosecutor, the priest not only ordered massacres, but he personally killed an old priest and several women, all ethnic Tutsis.

The former boss of the Christ the King College was arrested in Cameroon on 21 March 2002 and his trial opened on 22 June 2007.

Nsengimana is part of the three priests detained by the ICTR.

The first among them to have appeared on trial, Athanase Seromba, a former rural vicar, was sentenced to life in prison in appeal on 12 March.

The second, Emmanuel Rukundo, a former military chaplain in the north of Rwanda, is awaiting his judgment. The prosecutor has requested for life in prison on 20 February.

The last catholic priest indicted by the ICTR, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, will be tried in Paris, the United Nations tribunal declined jurisdiction over the case to the benefit of French courts.


© Hirondelle News Agency