Arusha, 16 June 2009 (FH) - Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako, accused of  1994 genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), summoned Tuesday an alibi witness, his friend living in exile, Aminadab Iyakaremye, to come to his rescue over the alleged killings some 15-years ago, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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According to the Rwandan refugee, Setako, a former Legal Affairs Director in the Defence Ministry, was in Kigali on the night of 6 to 7 April 1994, when the violent killings began in Rwanda.

However, prosecution testimonies claim that the defendant was on that night in Mukingo, Ruhengeri, northern Rwanda, in a Tutsi-massacre planning meeting.

Iyakaremye claimed that when the presidential plane was shot down on the evening of 6 April 1994 near the capital, Kigali, he was dining with his wife and children at the defendant's residence.

"We heard unusual explosions (...) It ruined our appetite. About 30 minutes later, Setako drove us back to the house", claimed the witness during Examination-in-Chief by American Professor Lennox Hinds.

He added that during the remainder of the night, they had spoken at least twice on telephone and that Setako was at his residence in down town Kigali where he had returned after dropping off his guests.

In cross-examination, Christiana Fomenky, from the Office of Prosecutor (OTP), suggested that the witness did not have a home telephone and thus could not have communicated with defendant in the hours following the death of then Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana.

"You had a telephone in your store and not in your residence", insisted Fomenky, basing herself on the archives of the only telephony company of the time.

"I had a parallel number", explained Iyakaremye, who lived in Gatsata, a district of Kigali.

The judges, due to the importance of this point of the testimony, themselves intervened to ask the witness in which circumstances he had installed in his living room a parallel number to that of his small shop that was a few meters away.

"Was it done legally?" asked one of the three bench Judge Florence Rita Arrey.

The witness responded by saying at that then a subscriber did not need an official authorization to obtain a parallel number.

Setako, who is prosecuted for crimes committed in Kigali and in his native prefecture of Ruhengeri, has been presenting his defence case since 4 May.


© Hirondelle News Agency