Arusha, October 16, 2009 (FH) - The defence of the oldest detainee at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 74-year-old Yussuf Munyakazi,  wrapped up  their case on Thursday after fielding a total of 20 witnesses including the accused himself.

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Among other things, the accused is specifically alleged to have led interahamwe militiamen from Bugarama commune, Cyangugu prefecture, south-western Rwanda, where he lived, to attack and kill Tutsis who sought refuge in various churches in the region. He has denied the charges.       

Munyakazi's defence case commenced on September 23. The prosecutor rested its case on June 4 after having called 12 witnesses to support his allegations. The trial itself began on April 22.

Presiding Judge, Florence Rita Arrey from Cameroon, has asked the parties in this case to submit their closing briefs by December 7, 2009 and set January 28 and 29, next year, for the parties to present their oral closing arguments.

Defending himself before the trial Chamber, Munyakazi claimed that if he wanted to kill Tutsis he would have started with those in Bugarama, his hometown where he said he hid some of them under his own roof. He further explained that he even assisted some of them to cross the border to Burundi or to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the former Zaire. 

The defendant was arrested in May 2004 in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he lived as an Imam [Muslim religious leader] under the name of Mzee Mandevu (literally meaning the bearded old man in Kiswahili).


© Hirondelle News Agency