Arusha, 8 September, 2008(FH)- A former Roman Catholic Priest in Muganza Parish, Butare Prefecture, Southern Rwanda, Monday stated before the International Criminal for Rwanda (ICTR) that a genocide-accused  Elie Ndayambaje,50, was trusted by his  Muganza commune as an upright Mayor and "had faith in him".

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Testifying for Ndayambaje's defence, the 20th witness, an Italian Priest Tiziano Pegoraro, told the judges William Sekule(presiding), Arlette Ramaroson and Solomy Bossa, that the accused was pro-active in bringing development in education and  water among others with view to improving welfare of his people,

"He [Ndayambaje] will also receive visits from outside the commune to learn of education projects," the Italian Priest said, who earlier lifted his protective measures and decided to testify in an open court.

"I did collaborate with Ndayambaje in sectors such as schools for social advancement,'' stressed the Priest when led by Ndayambaje's lead counsel Canadian Pierre Boule.

The priest, who worked in Rwanda for nearly 11 years, and most of his time he spent in Muganza, noted that some of the communes envied achievements of the accused. "Ethnic groups [Tutsis and Hutus] co-habitated...during his era social climate was excellent,'' he claimed.

In 1992, Priest Pegoraro said Ndayambaje ceased his mayorship to enroll at the Butare University to study economics. However, Ndayambaje was re-elected to the same post in June, 1994.

He decried witnesses who have testified against Ndayambaje, saying that "they have erred''.

The priest continued his testimony in the afternoon and is expected to be cross-examined by the prosecution Tuesday.

Ndayambaje is the sixth and the final defendant in the "Butare Trial", which has been the longest and the largest before the UN Court. The trial started in June 2001.All six accused have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity during 1994 killings, which according to UN claimed lives of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. 


© Hirondelle News Agency