Arusha, 31 August 2009 (FH) - The Prosecutor of  International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has described genocide-accused former businessman, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, as having committed one of worst crimes when he directed demolition of a church in Nyange, western Rwanda, during the height of 1994 killings.

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The fleeing refugees had sought refuge at the Church.

"The accused sitting here before you is accused of the most egregious and serious charges which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, which included women and children at Nyange Parish'', stated trial attorney, Ms Holo Makwaia, in her opening statement on Monday on behalf of the Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow.

"When all efforts to exterminate the Tutsis in huge numbers failed, the accused and his co-perpetrators ordered the demolition of the church,'' Ms Makwaia told the three-bench judges, adding that the prosecution would prove in the court the allegations.

The accused conducted his business activities in Kigali and in his native commune, Kivumu, where the catholic parish of Nyange was located.

For his alleged role in this massacre and other crimes committed in this commune, Kanyarukiga is being prosecuted for conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and extermination, according to the indictment signed on 5 December 2001 by the former ICTR prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.

According to the prosecutor, the driver of the bulldozer had initially refused to demolish the church but finally complied when they explained to him that the Hutus were strong enough to build another one.

After the destruction of the church, Kanyarukiga and Father Seromba found Kayishema, Ndahimana and the driver of the bulldozer rejoiced by drinking beers, adds the indictment.

The accused was arrested in South Africa on 16 July 2004 and transferred to Arusha three days later. He has pleaded innocent to the charges,

Earlier, David Jacobe, lead defence counsel for Kanyarukiga, urged the court to adjourn the trial as his client has not been granted access to some of his documents, which are necessary for the trial.


© Hirondelle News Agency