27.11.08 - ICTR/BUTARE - EX-RWANDA MAYOR SAYS "GUKORA" DID NOT MEAN "KILLING TUTSIS" IN 1994

Arusha, 27 November, 2008 (FH) - Former Rwandan Mayor, Elie Ndayambaje on trial alongside five other accused from Butare prefecture, South Rwanda, Wednesday described a Kinyarwanda word "gukora" literary meaning "to work" used during the 1994 genocide as propaganda against the Hutu elite.
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Ndayambaje who is testifying on his own defence was responding to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Medeleine Schwart who wanted the defendant to comment on the suggestion
that during the massacres in Butare prefecture the word "to work" meant killing ethnic-Tutsis.

"I am not in agreement Mr. President. I never have such understanding of the word "gukora". This is propaganda against Hutu elite," the witness told the three-man bench judges during the prosecution cross examination.

The seemingly irritated defendant went further saying "there is a time when enough is enough. I am sorry if I am speaking out of tone," he told the Chamber.

Ndayambaje asked the prosecution to refrain from suggesting, according to him disturbing words or phrases as the Tribunal was there to render justice and that they should assist the Chamber to reach that goal and not otherwise.

Following the exchange, Presiding Judge William Sekule ordered the witness to observe the court procedures by answering the questions put forward by the parties and avoid making any analysis or uncalled for comments as that was the Trial Chamber's responsibility.

According to prosecution, the Kinyarwanda word gukora (to work) meant "killing Tutsis" was used by the authorities during the massacres to incite the population to exterminate ethnic-Tutsis.

Meanwhile, this case also known as "Butare Trial" which was originally planned to be completed this session is likely to spill over to next January as some witnesses were scheduled to be recalled to re-testify for various reasons.

Other defendants accused jointly with Ndayambaje 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.

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

The trial which commenced in June 2001 continues Friday.

NI/SC/GF

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