Arusha, February 1, 2010 (FH) - Former Hutu Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga did not hate Tutsis, a defence witness claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday.

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A long-time friend and school colleague of the accused, witness Celestin Hitimana, 71, testified that Kanyarukiga harboured no-anti Tutsi sentiments. ‘'If he had anti-Tutsi sentiments, he would not have had Tutsi friends...He even had a concubine of Tutsi ethnicity,'' Hitimana who now lives in Belgium asserted during examination-in-chief.

During cross-examination, the witness confided that Kanyarukiga was a rich person and respected by the public though the accused did not have any political functions or positions."He was person of a good character,'' he added.

He also admitted he and Kanyarukiga were members of a political party, because it was due necessity at the time, but not because of political objectives.

Hitimana, who owned a shop in Kigali, also narrated to the court that Kanyarukiga had stopped at his shop on his way to Ndera, Kigali Rural, to fetch his family due to insecurity and killings following the killing of President Juvenal Habyarimana in April, 1994.

During the start of the trial on August 31, the prosecution described Kanyarukiga as having committed one of worst crimes when he directed demolition of a church in Nyange, western Rwanda, on April 16, 1994 where about 2,000 ethnic Tutsis were trapped inside and died.

After the destruction of the church, Kanyarukiga and others rejoiced by drinking beers, adds the indictment. The prosecution completed its case on September 17 after fielding eleven witnesses.

The trial continues Tuesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency