Kigali, 4 June 2009 (FH) - A Rwandan Senator, Stanley Safari, who was to appear on Wednesday for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, is believed to have fled his country, reported on Thursday the Kinyarwanda service of Voice of America (VOA).

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"According to various sources, he has already fled Rwanda", indicated the radio service, by stressing that the trial opened in the absence of the defendant and was to continue on Thursday.

The Senator is prosecuted for the murder of a Tutsi woman, Helene Kayitesi, during the 1994 genocide, added VOA. The victim was killed in her district of Cyarwa, located in the university residence of Butare, southern Rwanda.

Safari, who has opposed the semi-traditional Gacaca Court of Cyarwa, was being tried by a Gacaca Court from Kigali, the capital.

Last year, at the end of a trial for hoarding and looting of goods during the genocide, he was sentenced to a fine of 7 million Rwandan francs (nearly 13 000 American Dollars).

A brilliant orator, Safari had fought for the dissolution of his former party, the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), which he accused of having thought and spread the genocide ideology.

After the dissolution of the MDR, he, along with others, founded the Party for Solidarity and Progress (PSP), which belongs to the coalition around the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Senator Safari is not currently the only dignitary on trial in absentia for alleged involvement in the genocide.

Since Sunday, another gacaca court in Kigali has been trying the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Alfred Mukezamfura, who left Rwanda at the end of last year.

Mukezamfura, also the former president of a small political party, the Centrist Democratic Party (PDC), was president of the Chamber of Deputies until the legislative elections of September 2008.


© Hirondelle News Agency