Arusha, 05 February, 2009 (FH) - Fifty-five-year Salome Mukantuali, wife of former Rwandan acting  Interior Minister Calixte Kalinzira on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Thursday strongly dismissed an allegation that her husband participated in the killings of ethnic Tutsis during 1994 genocide.

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She told the attentive court that she would have not agreed to testify if she knew that her husband "is a man killer".

‘' Well, I do not want to see my husband go to jail unjustifiably,'' Mrs Kalimanzira said, reminding the prosecution that she was under an oath and thus could not lie.

She defended that her 56-year-old husband was a very a faithful Christian follower, who also respected cordial relations with all ethnic groups. She cited an example of two of their housemaids in 1994, who were Tutsis though they both are ethnic Hutus.

‘'My husband did not kill Tutsis who were in our own house why would he kill them elsewhere?'' Mrs Kalimanzira, seemingly irritated, told the three-bench judges presided by Justice Dennis Byron, during cross examination led by Gambian Counsel, Veronic Wright.

The witness, however, admitted that she was not with her husband between April 20 and May 31, 1994.

Earlier, during the Examination-in-Chief led by Co-counsel Anta Guisse (France), the witness described her husband as a good head of the family.

‘'I have never seen an African man attend delivery of a child...but my husband did so, stood by me during my delivery pains,'' stressed Mrs Kalimanzira, who revealed that they are happily married for 30 years and blessed with five children.

Mrs Kalimanzira, who was 18th defence witness, concluded her testimony Thursday. The hearing has been adjourned to next Tuesday when the accused himself, Kalimanzira, will be in the dock.

The most serious accusations against Kalimanzira relate to the role he played in the massacre of thousands of Tutsis, who had sought refuge on Kabuye Hill and his participation in search of Tutsi refugees at Arboretum Forest, his own native prefecture of Butare, Southern Rwanda where it was alleged Hutus were ordered to locate Tutsis and kill them.

According to the UN, about 800,000 people mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderately Hutus were killed during the 1994 genocide.


© Hirondelle News Agency