Arusha, 24 April 2009 (FH) - The six accused jointly in the so called "Butare Trial" should be handed life imprisonment for their roles in the 1994 genocide, a trial attorney told a UN Court on Monday.

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"The defendants committed calculated, cold blooded and executed in a methodical manner the killings," claimed the prosecuting counsel, Holo Makwaia.

The trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is the largest and longest in the 15-year history of the Arusha-based UN Court, trying key suspects of 1994 genocide.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor requested Monday life imprisonment for Callixte Kalimanzira, a former senior Rwandan official on trial for genocide.

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, adding that the accused voluntarily participated in the policy, mobilization of Hutus and ordering road blocks where Tutsis were killed.

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 another development, the prosecution rested its case on Wednesday in the trial of the Lieutenant-Colonel Ephrem Setako, prosecuted before the ICTR for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The 20th and final prosecution witness, who testified behind closed doors, left the stand on Wednesday, according to Ifeoma Ojemini Okali, lead prosecution attorney.

The ex-officer will begin his defence on 4 May. 

This week the trial of the eldest prisoner at the ICTR, former businessman, Yussuf Munyakazi, 74, accused of having killed Tutsis who had taken refuge in churches during the 1994 genocide, began Wednesday.

As the senior trial attorney, Richard Karegyesa, was charging him, Munyakazi, noticeable by his long white beard and his Muslim red-and-white hat, carefully followed the allegations.

After his opening statement, Karegyesa called his first witness, a man who began his testimony in closed session.

Munyakazi is defended by Professor Jwani Mwaikusa from Tanzania who last year successfully challenged the accused's transfer to Rwanda for a trial.

Munyakazi's trial is the second to start this year, after that of Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana.

Meanwhile, the trial of three former leaders of the then Rwandan presidential party, prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity was adjourned Wednesday to next Monday due to lack of witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency