Arusha, April 30, 2010 (FH) -The trial of three former senior officers of then Rwandan ruling party MRND is among three genocide cases which were heard this week before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), trying key suspects of 1994 killings.

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Other cases heard for defence side involved former Rwandan military officer Lieutenant Ildephonse Hategekimana and Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana.

The Hategekimana's case, however, came to an end with prosecution and defence locking horns on whether or not the defendant should be convicted of the offences and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Counsel for the prosecution William Egbe from Cameroon proposed that Hategekimana be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on ground that the evidence adduced by witnesses and exhibits demonstrated that "the accused is directly responsible in the killings of numerous people in extremely brutal manner.''

However, the defendant's lead counsel, Ahlonko Dovi from Togo, claimed the prosecution did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. ‘

During the trial, Hategekimana, a native of Mugina, in the former prefecture of Gitarama, central Rwanda, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity, murder and rape.

In the case against  Joseph Nzirorera, former MRND Secretary General, three defence witnesses testified, including genocide-convict and a former Mayor Juvenal Rugambarara, who admitted that the notorious Interahamwe militia were involved in killings of Tutsis in his area during the 1994 genocide.

"Interahamwe took part in the killings. These are ones who perpetrated the killings of Tutsis in Bicumbi Commune [central Rwanda]," Rugambarara, currently serving eleven years jail term in Benin, West Africa, claimed.

Former army officers, Col. Thercisse Renzaho and Lt. Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva also defended Nzirorera, tried jointly with his co-top MRND officials-- President Mathieu Ngirumpatse and his former vice president Edouard Karemera. The trial continues Monday.

The case against former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana, continued in closed session. Six defence witnesses, among 30 have so far testified. The seventh witness who started testifying this week continues his testimony on Monday.


© Hirondelle News Agency