Arusha, January 22, 2010 (FH) - Two trials resumed this week after the festive holidays at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, trying key perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.

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The trial of leaders of National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) - then Rwanda's ruling party - resumed on Monday with the former Secretary General Joseph Nzirorera continuing his defence. At adjournment last year, Nzirorera's defence had already presented 12 witnesses.

The session will continue until March 18, this year.

Nzirorera, a civil engineer by profession, appears in a joint trial with co-accused, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, former President and Vice-President respectively of the party.

A defence witness of Nzirorera Thursday changed his mind in the witness box and gave evidence in favor of the prosecution case.

‘' I am no longer at your mercy. I want to testify before the Chamber so that the truth can be told,'' protected witness code-named GAP told the Chamber as he was being led in his examination in chief by the accused  defence counsel, Peter Robinson who wanted to know why he changed his evidence.

In the written statement signed by the witness after speaking to Nzirorera's defence team, it indicated that there was no meeting held in the accused mother's house in Mukingo commune, in Ruhengeri prefecture on April 7, 1994 but before the bench the witness stated the opposite.

Two more defence witnesses Thursday affirmed that genocide-accused former Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga was in Ndera, Kigali Rural, on 15th April, 1994 defying prosecution argument that the suspect was supervising demolition of Nyange Church, some 100 kilometres away in western Rwanda.

The two who testified Thursday included the soldier who escorted the accused to Ndera, Titien Ndaberetse, and one of the children of the Kanyarukiga's neighbour, Henriette Mutoneshwa, a 26-year-old girl now living as a refugee in France.

The case resumes on Monday with sixth witness testifying for the accused.

Kanyarukiga is accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination).

He is alleged to have encouraged the destruction of the church of Nyange, Kibuye, western province, where more than 1,500 ethnic Tutsis perished when the building was brought down by a bulldozer in mid-April 1994.

On Monday, the trial of Augustin Ngirabatware, former Rwanda's Planning Minister, resumes with the prosecution continuing to present their witnesses. The Trial, which opened on 23 September, was adjourned on October 22 after hearing six prosecution witnesses.

Another trial planned to resume next week Thursday is that of Yusuf Munyakazi (74), former businessman with the parties presenting their oral arguments.   

The trial of eldest prisoner began on April 22, 2009.  The prosecution completed its testimony by presenting 12 witnesses on June 4. The defence commenced its case on 31 August and wrapped up on October 15 after fielding 20 witnesses, including the accused himself.


© Hirondelle News Agency