Arusha, September 07, 2010 (FH) - Ex-Rwandan Mayor and defence witness for genocide-accused Mathieu Ngirumpatse, Tuesday alleged before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Burundian refugees attacked and killed Tutsis hosted at Mugina parish in Gitarama prefecture (central Rwanda) in April, 1994. 

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‘'Burundian refugees launched the attack and killed Tutsi refugees at Mugina parish between April 25th and 26th ,'' former mayor of Mugina commune Martin Ndamage told Trial Chamber III, presided by Judge Dennis Byron.

Led in his examination in chief by the accused lead defence counsel Chantal Hounkpatin, the witness claimed that Burundian refugees who had settled in Rwanda in 1993 allegedly attacked and killed Tutsis at the parish following information that their President Cyprien Ntaryamira together with his Rwandan counterpart Juvenal Habyarimana died on a plane crash on April 6, 1994 as they were about to land at Kigali Airport.

Burundian refugees, mostly Hutus, alleged that Tutsis might be behind the plane crash.

Ngirumpatse, former President of the Rwandan ruling party, MRND, in 1994 is jointly tried alongside his Vice President, Edouard Karemera. The later has already concluded his defence case.

The witness denied that he witnessed Interahamwe militiamen of the MRND party taking part in the attack, claiming that ‘'it was not easy to identify them as there were no specific signs which could earmark them as Interahamwe.''

Confronted by prosecution attorney Takeh Sendze that in his earlier testimony in the case of Ferdinand Nahimana (already a convicted), on December 5, 2002 he mentioned the attackers to include Interahamwe militias, Martin Ndamage was quick to respond: ‘'When I said the area in my previous testimony it was not restricted to Mugina commune alone, it might be anywhere in the country.''

The prosecutor indicted both senior leaders of the MRND for seven counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by members of their party and its youth wing, Interahamwe militiamen.

The trial continues on Wednesday with another defence witness.


© Hirondelle News Agency