Arusha, 8 September 2009 (FH) - Ethnic Tutsis massacred in Nyange Church, western Rwanda, on 16 April, 1994, had strongly resisted their attackers before succumbing to them, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday.

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Referred by codename ‘'CBY'' to protect his identity, the  prosecution witness, who was employed at the presbytery of Nyange during the 1994 genocide, was testifying in the trial of businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide and extermination.

According to the testimony, the attackers had to retreat on 13 and 14 April 1994.

But, the following day, alleged the witness, one of the assailants attacked with a grenade, weakening and dispersing the Tutsis, several of whom were killed that day.

The survivors, he said, barricaded themselves inside the church, adding that the attackers had also tried in vain to set on fire the church building by using kerosene.

Fulgence Kayishema, police inspector of Kivumu Commune, where the Nyange Church was located, then resorted to a bulldozer to demolish the church, stated CBY, who was examined by Tidiane Mara, from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).

He said that the bulldozer had begun demolition on 15 April 1994 in the afternoon and completed the work the following day, leaving behind between 2,500 and 3,000 ethnic Tutsis buried dead under bricks and tiles.

Influential persons, including then Mayor of Kivumu, Gregoire Ndahimana, who was arrested last month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Kanyarukiga, ordered the destruction of the church, claimed the witness.

The defendant, who has claimed not guilty, was arrested in South Africa on 16 July 2004 and was transferred three days later to the ICTR detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania.

His trial began on 31 August.


© Hirondelle News Agency