Arusha, 12 May 2009 (FH) - A Rwandan refugee in Belgium defended Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) the former Vice-President of former presidential party, Edouard Karemera, describing him as a man who "preached unity".

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"He preached solidarity and unity. Karemera always told people to help each other. He never preached discrimination, never, never", stated Agnes Mukarugomwa, a former member of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND).

"In the MRND meetings, Karemera called to work and to unite", affirmed Mukarugomwa, who testified via videoconference from The Hague, The Netherlands.

 A native of Kibuye, western Rwanda, Karemera was elected vice-president of the MRND in July 1993. Towards the end of May 1994, he was named Interior Minister to replace Faustin Munyazesa, who declined to return from his mission abroad after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994.

Prosecuted for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, the former minister has claimed his innocence.

The prosecutor alleges that Karemera and his two co-defendants, the former President and Secretary-General of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively were at the hearth of an agreement in order to commit the genocide perpetrated against their Tutsi fellow-citizens in 1994.

Next week, the former vice-president of the MRND, who has been calling his witnesses for already more than a year, was himself awaited on the stand to give his version of the facts.

His testimony was expected to last two weeks.

The proceedings in the case began on 19 September 2005. The prosecutor rested his case on 4 December 2007


© Hirondelle News Agency