Arusha, April 16, 2010 (FH) -The defence case of the former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana, took off Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) amid allegations that the prosecution did not conduct proper investigation.

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Presenting his opening remarks, the accused French lead defence Counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse told the court that had the office of the prosecutor done its work properly and according to the law, there would not be any case against Nzabonimana.

The defence attorney charged after the prosecution had rested its case upon fielding 19 witnesses, that it was not possible for his client  who was all along a good man, to suddenly change after the plane crash which killed President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994 to become a killer and distributor of weapons.   

Nzabonimana is facing five charges-- genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. He denied the charges. The defence is expected to present 30 witnesses. The first witness code-named ‘'T5'' to protect his identity began testifying immediately after the opening statement.

The second witness, Mectilde Mukandagijimana, wife of genocide-accused Prosper Mugiraneza, Thursday alleged that her family and that of the accused took refugee at the French Embassy in Kigali between April 7 and 11, 1994.

She asserted that the only day she saw Nzabonimana left the French Embassy during the period in question was April 9, 1994 in the morning but he returned in the evening. She said that was the day her husband and Nzabonima were appointed ministers of the interim government.

‘'I saw Nzabonimana on April 7 when we arrived at the French Embassy and continued seeing him on the next day until 11th  April when I left with my family to go to Hotel of the Diplomats,'' Mrs. Mugiraneza told the Chamber as she was being examined in-chief by the accused French lead defence counsel, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse.

In the indictment, however, the prosecution alleges that during that period the defendant was busy distributing weapons and ordering killings against Tutsis in his home commune of Nyabikenke in Gitarama prefecture, central Rwanda. The trial continues on Monday.

Meanwhile, Genocide convict Georges Rutaganda Monday disassociated Joseph Nzirorera, then Secretary General of MRND, in any activities of the Interahamwe militia group in a joint genocide trial involving two other top party officials, president Mathieu Ngirumpatse and his former vice president Edouard Karemera..

"Nzirorera never participated at any point in time with activities of Interahamwe," Rutaganda, then second vice president of MRND militia group, who is currently serving life imprisonment sentence in Benin, told the ICTR.

The 32nd defence witness for Nzirorera under examination of leading counsel Peter Robinson told the ICTR Chamber presided over by Justice Dennis Byron further that the Interahamwe never propagated the extermination of the Tutsis nor was it formed for their attack.

Another genocide convict, former Prefect of Kigali Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, who testified on Wednesday as 33rd defence witness for Nzirorera refuted claims that Interahamwe received military training in the town.

The trial continues Monday.


© Hirondelle News Agency