Arusha, 27 October, 2008 (FH) - The last defendant in a six-man trial popularly referred as "Butare Trial", Elie Ndayambaje, former Mayor of Muganza commune, Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that his family was among victims of intimidation by unknown assailants who attacked Lemera Communal Office in Muganza where they had sought refuge during 1994 genocide.

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"They did not take away anyone or anything instead they just intimidated us and left our room[class room]," Ndayayambaje who was not a Mayor by then, told Trial Chamber II, presided over by Tanzanian Judge William Sekule. However, Ndayambaje did not elaborate what sort of intimidation he and his family suffered from the attackers.

Ndayambaje, who was testifying on his own defence for the second running week, was responding to questions from his Canadian lead defence Counsel, Pierre Boule, in Examination-in-Chief.

But the situation was different in the other opposite and sideline rooms, he explained, adding the attackers abducted some refugees.

According to the accused, he witnessed abductions of at least ten people by unknown men in camouflage [not military], armed with guns, clubs, spears and other weapons in an attack that lasted about 15 minutes, but neither the then Mayor of Muganza Commune, Chrysologue Bimenyimana, nor communal police and two gendarmeries present, could attempt anything against invading about 100 assailants.

The witness also told the court that shortly after the attack, Mayor of neighbouring Kibayi commune, Pierre-Carnicius Kajyambere, arrived at Muganza Commune seeking information over the attack.

During the testimony, Ndayambaje denied several allegations implicating him with the attacks, distribution of weapons and transportations of assailants to various places to commit crimes. The Examination-in-Chief continues Tuesday.

The trial which started in June 2001 is the largest and longest before the UN Court.

Co-accused in the trial are: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for Family and Women Affairs and her son, Arsen Shalom Ntahobali, two former Governors, Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana and another former Mayor, Joseph Kanyabashi.

All have pleaded not guilty to genocide, crimes against humanity and public incitements.


© Hirondelle News Agency