Arusha, 28 April 2009 (FH) - The defence for Colonel Alphonse Nteziraryayo, former Governor of Butare ,southern Rwanda, pleaded for his acquittal on Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) where he is accused of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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On Monday, another former Governor of Butare who is prosecuted in the same case had claimed his innocence through his defence lawyers.

 "We request the rejection of all the charges carried against Mr Nteziryayo", stated at the end of his closing arguments the lawyer and, Burkinabe poet, Frederic Pacere Titinga.

 Titinga invited the judges, if they were to convict him, to grant him the benefit of extenuating circumstances.

 "These last days, Colonel Nteziryayo has had serious health issues which continue'', said the defence lawyer without specifying the illness.

 He finally stressed that the defendant had saved Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

Nteziryayo was named to the head of the Butare prefecture in mid-June 1994 to replace Sylvain Nsabimana, also prosecuted in this case and whose defence lawyers had also requested an acquittal on Monday.

 Nsabimana had succeeded the Tutsi Jean Habyarimana dismissed on 19 April 1994 by the interim government in place during the genocide.

 After this dismissal, Governor Habyarimana was thrown in prison and killed thereafter.

The two former Governors of Butare are on trial along with four others, including the former Minister for the Family and Women's Development, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, accused notably of incitement to rapeTutsi women and girls.

Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, Nyiramasuhuko's son, is also prosecuted in this trial which opened in 2001. The first to introduce their final conclusions, Ntahobali and his mother requested that the Chamber clear them of all the charges carried against them.

The case also involves two former mayors, including that of Ngoma, Joseph Kanyabashi, who began the presentation of his closing arguments after those of Nteziryayo.

The closing arguments will be rounded off by Elie Ndayambaje, the former mayor of Muganza, another commune in the prefecture of Butare.

Last week, the prosecutor requested life in prison, the maximum sentence available at the ICTR, against each of the six defendants, arguing that "without them, the genocide would not have been possible in Butare".


© Hirondelle News Agency