Arusha, 4 June 2009 (FH) - The prosecution Thursday rested its case in the trial of Yusuf Munyakazi, accused of having killed ethnic Tutsis who had sought refuge in churches during the 1994 genocide.

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A former rich landowner who turned into a small businessman, Munyakazi, 74, is the oldest prisoner at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), trying key suspects of the 1994 killings.

The testimony of the 12th and last prosecution witness, a man designated by pseudonym "BWU", lasted only Thursday.

Presented as a repented genocidaire, the witness who was sentenced to 10 years in Rwanda, stated that Munyakazi had directed an attack on 29 April 1994 against Tutsis who had sought refuge in the complex of Parish Church of Shangi, former prefecture of Cyangugu, south-western Rwanda.

According to the testimony, the defendant advised the attackers to cover themselves with branches before entering the enclosure of the place of worship.

"We then entered the complex (...) we opened fire, some Tutsis died, others, we killed with machetes", claimed BWU.

 After these first massacres, Munyakazi ordered to breakdown the doors of the church, he added. "Get axes and open up the doors so that we accomplish our mission in its totality", the accused was quoted to have told the killers.

After having broken into the church building, the killers continued the massacres which lasted several hours, according to the witness.

BWU stated that the defendant was not satisfied with swiftness of the operation. "He took out his gun and shot Petronilla Nyiramitereri, a teacher who had approached him to beg him to spare her. She died on the spot", he alleged.

Munyakazi followed attentively the testimony, sometimes exchanging remarks with one of the Rwandan investigators from his defence team.

The trial began on 22 April. The Chamber has yet to set the date for the defence to begin its case.

Munyakazi was arrested in May 2004 in east of the 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, who is a law professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


© Hirondelle News Agency