Arusha, April 12, 2010 (FH) - Genocide convict George Rutaganda Monday disassociated Joseph Nzirorera, then Secretary General of MRND, in any activities of the Interahamwe militia group.

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"Nzirorera never participated at any point in time with activities of Interahamwe," Rutaganda, who was the second vice president of MRND militia Interahamwe, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Rutaganda, who is currently serving a life imprisonment sentence in Benin, was defending Nzirorera, also facing a genocide case before the ICTR Chamber presided over by Justice Dennis Byron, as his 32nd defence witness.

Examined by leading counsel Peter Robinson, the witness said he knew Nzirorera before July 1993 on capacity as minister and not otherwise and never met with him in any other place than at a wedding party of his sister-in-law.

The prosecution alleges in the indictment that, among others, Nzirorera and authorities held several meetings to plan and organize genocide against ethnic-Tutsis at various locations in Kigali and other area.

The defence witness told the Chamber further that the Interahamwe Group never propagated the extermination of the Tutsis. He denied that the Interahamwe group was formed for attacking Tutsis.

"This is a paradoxical question. The president -Robert Kajuga- was a Tutsi. How could they exterminate them ? That would not be possible because of the composition of the group," he testified.

According to him, they could not organize the killings because there were Tutsis within the group and they had no intention of hating whomsoever.

He admitted that the MNRD organized several meetings, but refuted the evidence of Ahmed Haramyumukiza, a prosecution witness, that such meetings like the one he attended early 1992 had the objective of organizing the killing of Tutsis.

In this trial, Nzirorera is charged jointly with the party's former president Mathieu Ngirumpatse and his former vice president Edouard Karemera. The trio is charged with crimes committed by members of their party.

The prosecution has indicted them for their superior responsibility as top officials of the party then in power in 1994 under President Habyarimana.


© Hirondelle News Agency