Arusha, March 15, 2010 (FH) - Athumani Ndayambaje, a Muslim Preacher and defence witness for genocide-accused Jean Baptiste Gatete, Monday denied before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the defendant was present at Kayonza roadblock in Kibungo prefecture where four people were killed by police and Interahamwe militiamen on April 12, 1994.

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‘'I did not see Gatete (the accused) though I stayed for about 10 minutes,'' Ndayambaje told the Chamber during examination in-chief by the accused's lead French defence Counsel, Marie-Pierre Poulain.

The witness said that when he arrived at the roadblock he saw Interahamwe militiamen and communal policemen, including one called Deo, busy checking identity cards of thousands of people crossing the border into Tanzania at Rusumo, close to where the roadblock was erected.

He narrated that shortly after he saw a vehicle carrying four passengers including two men called Gatare and Mahmud, who was driving it. He said that Deo the policeman forced the two men out and led them aside, only to be shot dead five meters away from where he stood.

‘'I saw the victims drop down one after another,'' he told the Chamber, adding that  other two passengers-- who were young children-- were undoubtedly also killed  though he did not witness it. Following the event, he crossed the border into Tanzania.

Among others, the indictment alleges that Gatete ordered the policemen and Interahamwe to kill the occupants of the vehicle driven by Mahmud and later confisticated it.

Earlier, Ndayambaje, a native of Murambi commune where Gatete was mayor before becoming a Director at the Ministry of Family and Women Affairs, told the court that the accused worked hand in glove with the population to bring in development in terms of construction of schools, markets and administrative buildings.

The trial continues Tuesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency