Arusha, 22 September, 2008 (FH) - The last accused in six-man joint trial, Elie Ndayambaje, former Mayor of Muganza commune in Butare prefecture, Wednesday reiterated his denial of his involvement in the Rwandan 1994 genocide before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Ndayambaje, who is testifying himself in his own defence for third day running , at times wondered why the prosecution accepted what he termed as "inconsistent and false testimonies" by some prosecution witnesses.

"I was not a Mayor that time [during the start of genocide]," stressed seemingly irritated Ndayambaje, in response to his Canadian Counsel, Pierre Boule, who led him in Examination-in-Chief.

Earlier, Boule asked the accused to comment about testimony of a prosecution witness, only known as "QBZ" , who alleged before the Chamber on 24 February, 2004, that the defendant in the company of the police and other members of the communal safety committee on April 7, 1994, burst open an armoury and drew 20 rifles and distributed the ammunitions to former soldiers.

According to Ndayambaje, that event could not have happened as he did not occupy the position of Mayor. The defendant stepped down as Mayor in 1992 and went to pursue further studies, although he was reinstated at the height of massacres in June 1994.

The accused also denied that the same day [7 April] he distributed ammunitions and traditional weapons to people who did not have rifles, freed detainees from jail and ordered Hutus to kill Tutsis and later bury the victims in mass graves behind the Communal Offices.

Ndayambaje insisted in his claim that between April 7 and 10 he stayed at his Mgombwa sector. "I left Mgombwa around 10th when I accompanied Brother Stan [Belgium missionary who took care of Burundian refugees] to Butare", he claimed before the Court.

The accused also narrated that during one of their trips as they were returning to Muganza, they made a stop over at Lemera Hill, highest point in the area, from where they saw Maraba, Runyinyi and Rusatira communes' houses set on fire.

The trial which started in June 2001 continues Thursday. Co-accused in the trial are: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for Family and her son, Arsen Shalom Ntahobali, two former Governors, Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana and former Mayor, Joseph Kanyabashi. All have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity


© Hirondelle News Agency