Arusha, 28 September, 2009 (FH) - Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother in-law of the late Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, Monday stressed before the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he was wrongfully convicted of  genocide last year by the Tribunal's lower court.

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‘'I am accused because I am the brother in-law of the former president (Juvenal Habyarimana) who was the source of peace and unity'' Zigiranyirazo, known as "Mr Z'', told the five-man Chamber presided by Judge Theodor Meron from the United States, who had granted the accused a chance to defend himself after his defence team and the prosecution had concluded their submissions.

He said both the former president and him enjoyed cordial relationship with ethnic Tutsis and it was unimaginable that he could think the unthinkable - the Tutsi slaughter.

Zigiranyirazo mentioned several reasons, including the fact that one of his wives was an ethnic Tutsi [and has one child from her]; his personal lawyer and several workers who worked loyally for him were Tutsi too.

‘' I am not a killer at all; I never killed any Tutsi at Kesho Hill on April 8, 1994. I was at Kanombe (residence of former president, Habyarimana killed on April 6) with my sister (Agathe Kanziga) who was mourning her husband,'' he narrated.

He said he could not have abandoned his family in such a situation of grief.

Both, the prosecution and defence have appealed against the 20-year concurrent jail of the accused.

The one-day hearing has been concluded.


© Hirondelle News Agency