Arusha, 17 November, 2008 (FH) - The last accused in the longest and largest genocide trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Elie Ndayambaje, still on the witness box defending himself, Monday alleged that he had never convened nor attended any meeting after he was re-sworn in as Mayor of Muganza Commune for second time on June 22, 1994, almost one week before the end of the massacres.

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He said although there was an attempt to hold a meeting at Gisagara Sub-Prefect office in Butare, South Rwanda, organized by Dominique Ntakuriryayo two days later, the participants including himself were compelled to disperse as the former rebels of Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), now in power in Kigali, intensified attacks.

"The security situation deteriorated so much and became dangerous in such a way that the Sub-prefect and even myself decided to leave the area," Ndayambaje told his Canadian lead counsel, Pierre Boule in Examination-in-Chief.

Part of the indictment alleged that the accused in collaboration with other leaders in Muganza commune and Butare prefecture incited the population in public meetings to take up arms against minority ethnic-Tutsis.

Ndayambaje explained that he and his family left Rwanda for Burundi on July 8, 1994 where he spent three weeks before proceeding to Tanzania and settled at Benaco refugee camp. However he left the camp three months later to go to Belgium for further studies at Interwarp University.

He testified that he lived in Belgium from December 9, 1994 until June 1995 when he was arrested by the authorities and transferred to ICTR, Arusha allegedly for taking part in genocide.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Other defendants are: former minister of Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali; former Governors Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo; and Ex-Mayor of Ngoma commune, Joseph Kanyabashi. The trial started in June 2001.

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


© Hirondelle News Agency