Arusha, 30 April 2009 (FH) - The trial of the eldest prisoner at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Yussuf Munyakazi, accused of killing Tutsis who had taken refuge in churches in 1994, was adjourned on Wednesday to 1 June.

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The proceedings were deferred at the end of the testimony of the 10th prosecution witness, who testified in both public and closed sessions.

A dozen witnesses must still be called to the stand before the prosecution rests its case, according to Didace Nyirinkwaya, one of the rare Rwandans pleading for the prosecution at the ICTR.

Prosecuted for genocide, complicity in genocide and extermination, Munyakazi, 74, is the oldest of the prisoners at the ICTR.

According to the testimonies heard since the opening of the trial on 22 April, the former rich landowner--converted into small businessman--would have toured the churches of the Cyangugu prefecture, south-western Rwanda, in 1994, bringing death and destruction.

 "One would have thought that Munyakazi's militia had the mission of touring the churches to kill Tutsis who had taken refuge there", stated protected witness "MP", who testified on Monday.

 Munyakazi was arrested in May 2004 in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he pretended to be an Imam, under the name of Mzee Mandevu (literally, the bearded old man in Kiswahili).

He is defended by Jwani Mwaikusa, a law professor from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The designation of the Tanzanian professor was not by chance because the defendant, who does not understand French or English, the two official languages of the Tribunal, had requested to be assisted by a lawyer who spoke Kinyarwanda or Kiswahili, the national language of Tanzania.


© Hirondelle News Agency