Arusha, 20 April 2009 (FH) - The prosecutor requested on Monday life imprisonment for Callixte Kalimanzira, a former senior Rwandan  official on trial for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reports Hirondelle Agency.

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Kalimanzira, an agronomist by training, was, in 1994, Cabinet Director at the Interior ministry, and was acting minister during the killings.

"The prosecutor submits that Kalimanzira should be sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of his life", stated Ousman Jammeh.

"He voluntarily participated in the policy, mobilization of Hutus and ordering road blocks where Tutsis were killed", Jammeh alleged.

The representative of the prosecutor claimed that the accused participated in the execution of genocide, a tragedy which continues to shock the consciousness of humanity.

"There are no mitigating factors in this case", he insisted, affirming that the defendant had misused his influence in Butare prefecture (southern Rwanda), where he originates from.

For his part, the lead defence counsel, Arthur Vercken from the Bar of Paris, urged the court to acquit the accused, whom he described as completely innocent.

Vercken affirmed that Kalimanzira did not have "any decisional capacity" in his department in April and May, 1994 as claimed by the prosecution.

In the absence of Minister Faustin Munyazesa, who had chosen not to return from his mission abroad after the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana, the defendant "ensured only current affairs", argued the French lawyer.

The most serious facts charged against this former senior official relate to the role which he played in the massacre of thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge on Kabuye Hill, Gisagara sub-prefecture (Butare prefecture) towards the end of April 1994. Committed by soldiers, Interahamwe militiamen and Burundian Hutu refugees, the Kabuye slaughters lasted several days.

The Kalimanzira trial opened on 5 May 2008. The prosecutor rested his case on 30 June 2008 after having called 24 witnesses. The defence rested its case on 11 February at the end of the testimony of the defendant, the 43rd and last defence witness.

The former cabinet director surrendered himself to the Tanzanian authorities in November 2005 from Nairobi, Kenya, where he lived with his family


© Hirondelle News Agency