Arusha, 26 January 2009 (FH) - Two defence witnesses denied before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that genocide accused former Rwandan Director of Cabinet in  the Interior Ministry, Calixte Kalimanzira, distributed weapons to Burundian refugees in Butare, southern Rwanda, to kill ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 killings, at the resumption of the trial on Monday.

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The trial of Kalimanzira, who was also acting Interior Minister between April-May, 1994, was adjourned last month.

The witnesses' code named "SRA" and "AM28" to protect their identities, were being led in examination-in-chief by Artha Guisse, co-counsel of the defendant.

Witness "SRA" told the three-bench chamber, presided over by Justice Dennis Byron, he did not see the accused committing the crimes of distributing weapons to refugees to kill Tutsis as alleged by the prosecution and its witnesses.

‘'I never saw or heard Kalimanzira distributing weapons at Kanage refugee camp,'' the witness claimed.

However, when responding to prosecutors' questions led by Christine Graham that the witness could not have been in a position to know on whether or not the accused visited the camp and distributed weapons as he was not full time at the camp, the witness said it was not possible to miss out that information as he was a full-time cook for the refugees and such details could not have eluded him.

The chamber later heard testimony of witness "AM28", whom among other things, said did not know the accused apart from only having heard about him.

Most part of the testimony of this witness was held in closed session. The hearing continues Tuesday.

The defence expects to field at least 19 witnesses during this session, scheduled to end on February 5. 

The most serious accusation against Kalimanzira relates to the role he played in the massacre of thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge on Kabuye Hill, Gisagara towards the end of April 1994.


© Hirondelle News Agency