Arusha, 15 September, 2009 (FH) - A former Rwandan gendarme who testified in defence of the oldest detainee at the International Criminal for Rwanda (ICTR), the 74-year-old Yusuf Munyakazi, categorically denied Tuesday that he saw the accused in possession of any firearm in his native commune of Bugarama, Cyangugu prefecture, during the 1994 genocide.

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Led in examination in-chief by his lead defence counsel, Professor Jwani Mwaikusa of Tanzania, the witness, dubbed ‘'MYA'' to protect his identity, said he was in Bugarama between mid March and April 9, 1994 when he left, but during the entire period in question he neither saw nor heard people spoke about Munyakazi possessing a weapon.

The witness, with then a rank of Corporal , also denied several other allegations, including witnessing military training for Bugarama youths or having any knowledge of a place where the firearms were stored other than the police station.

Asked by prosecution counsel Segun Jegede why he did nothing to protect civilians who were being killed at Bugarama, the witness quickly responded ‘' I was not a commander. I could not have acted on my own without an order.'' The witness concluded his testimony.

The trial continues Wednesday when the last two defence witnesses will be heard before the accused himself stands in the dock. So far the defence has already called 17 witnesses.

Charged witth genocide, complicity in the genocide and extermination, Munyakazi, has pleaded not guilty.

He was arrested in May 2004 in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and later transferred to the Tribunal's seat in Arusha, Tanzania.

The trial began on 22 April, 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency