Arusha, 18 June 2009 (FH) - A Rwandan Evangelist, now living in exile in Tanzania, Thursday came to the defence of former Rwandan military officer Lt . Col. Ephrem Setako, accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in 1994, claiming that the suspect was an innocent person.

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David Biramahire belongs to the close circles of friends of the accused who come to prove an alibi that the suspect was in Kigali at his residence between night of 6th and and 7th April, 1994.

The witness, who fled  to Setako's house in Kigali with his Tanzanian wife, stressed that Setako was in the Rwandan capital.

The prosecutor alleges that the accused on 7th and 8th April, 1994 was in Mukingo and Nkuli Commune, Reuhengeri prefecture, planning genocide.

However, before going into the testimony, the witness shocked the court-room when he suddenly pulled out four bible books and dropped them at the witness desk, saying they are "a gift for the judges to read them."

The witness' action was prompted by the accused's American lead defence Counsel, Professor Lennox Hinds, who attempted to draw attention of the court on the fact that the witness was an evangelist and wanted him to explain what exactly was the meaning of it.

‘'I share out these type of documents,'' the Evangelist quickly responded while putting the four bible on the table one after another not even listening from either the defence counsel, who was leading him in his Examination-in-Chief, nor the Chamber 1 judges, who desperately tried to stop him from doing that.

Witness Biramahire, who is married to a Maasai woman, claimed that he was compelled to seek refuge to the house of the accused with his brother after failing to get an asylum at the Tanzanian Embassy in Kigali, though his wife and the children were accepted at the embassy.

The witness said he narrowly escaped being killed by soldiers who invaded his home on April 7, 1994 and was spared after giving them money.

The witness also told the court that his effort to call Lt. Col. Setako on phone for assistance could not bear fruits, as Setako told him he had no soldiers immediately with him.

The witness concluded his testimony and the trial continues Friday.


© Hirondelle News Agency