Arusha, January 20, 2010 (FH) - A defence witness claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Tuesday that genocide-accused former Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga was in Ndera, Kigali Rural, on April 15, 1994 and only left the place the next day.

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The claim apparently challenges the prosecution argument that Kanyarukiga participated in the demolition of Nyange Church, western Rwanda, on April 16, 1994 where about 2,000 ethnic Tutsis where trapped inside and died. 

The Nyange attack began on April 15.

The distance between the two points [ Ndera and Nyange] is approximately 100 kilometres.

‘'Kanyarukiga arrived on April 15 in Ndera in a company of an armed soldier in Red Pajero,'' affirmed Xaverina Muhayimana, a mother of two children, during examination in chief by lead counsel Canadian David Jacobs. She asserted that the accused stayed for a night.

‘'I pleaded to him for evacuation of my family,'' she claimed, noting that due to overloading, the accused managed to evacuate her two children and left her out.

Ms Muhayimana, who fled to France in July 1994, stated that she was not aware of any political activities the accused was involved in. ‘'He liked playing traditional draught [igisero]...I knew he was businessman with little educational background" she told the Three Judge bench presided by Taghrid Hikmet from Jordan.

The defence testimony continues on Thursday.

When the trial opened on August 31, 2009, the prosecution described Kanyarukiga as having committed one of worst crimes when he directed demolition of a church in Nyange during the height of 1994 killings. 

According to the prosecutor, the driver of the bulldozer had initially refused to demolish the church, but finally complied when explained that the Hutus were strong enough to build another one. After the destruction of the church, Kanyarukiga and others rejoiced by drinking beers, adds the indictment. Kanyarukiga has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution completed its case on September 17 last year after fielding eleven witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency