Arusha, 9 September 2009 (FH) - A genocide convict, who was part of the 1994 killings at Nyange Church in western Rwanda, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday that the defendant, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, a former Rwandan businessman, was physically present during the two-day massacres which took place between April 15 and 16.

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The witness, code-named "CBR'' to protect his identity, was present together with other influential officials at the Nyange Church, including Father Athanase Seromba, already sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTR ; Gregoire Ndahimana, former Mayor of Kivumu recently arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Fulgence Kayishema,  ex-Police Inspector; Telephore Ndungutse, a teacher; and Joseph Habiyambere, a former judge.     

‘'When I arrived at the Nyange Church, I saw several officials like Gaspard Kanyarukiga, Father Seromba, Mayor Gregoire Ndahimana and other authorities consulting with each other,'' "CRB" told the Chamber.

The witness narrated  how they desperately tried to kill as many ethnic Tutsis as possible sheltered inside the Nyange Church by hurling grenades, stones and firing gun-shots, but the ‘mission' remained impossible on the first day(April 15). Only a handful of them were killed and others wounded.

However, the following day (April 16), he said, a large crowd of Tutsis were fetched from various areas of Kivumu commune and its vacinity by trucks and driven to the church.

He alleged that after some discreet consultations with officials, Mayor Ndahimana ordered assailants to ‘'start work'', meaning to begin the Tutsi killing-spree. ‘'But again we did not successfully finish all of them,'' CRB told the attentive court.

He elaborate further that finally, the authorities decided to bring in a bulldozer which ended up demolishing the church, killing all trapped Tutsi refugees inside it. The sixth prosecution witness was later cross examined by the defence.

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