Arusha, February 12, 2010 (FH) -The defence of former Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga Friday wrapped up its case after presenting a total of 22 witnesses.

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The three-bench Chamber presided by Judge Taghrid Hikmet is expected next week to set a date for the closing briefs and to rule whether it is necessary to visit the site of the alleged killings in Rwanda.

The defence counsel has claimed that the accused was an innocent person who ran his business in Nyange, western Rwanda - the site of mass killings of Tutsis on 16 April - but never lived there.

Most of the defence witnesses testified that Kanyarukiga was not in Nyange when the church was destroyed by a bulldozer, killing approximately 2,000 ethnic Tutsis.

At the opening of the trial on August 31, the prosecution described Kanyarukiga as having committed one of worst crimes when he directed the demolition of a church in Nyange during the height of 1994 killings. After the destruction of the church, Kanyarukiga and others rejoiced by drinking beers, added the indictment

According to the indictment, Kanyarukiga is being prosecuted for conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and extermination. He has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution completed its case on September 17 after fielding eleven witnesses. The defence began its case on January 18.

The same killings at Nyange parish led to the life sentence for former parish priest of the church, Athanase Seromba.

Kanyarukiga was arrested in South Africa on July 16, 2004, and transferred to Arusha three days later.   


© Hirondelle News Agency