Arusha, September 27, 2010 (FH) - Leonidas Murambya, nephew of  genocide-accused Mathieu Ngirumpatse, President  of the Rwandan ruling party in 1994, denied on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that his uncle hated Tutsis.

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‘'More than half of the staff who worked at the Eden Garden Restaurant were Tutsis. This would be a contradiction," Murambya told the Chamber explaining that the restaurant was owned by the family of the accused in Kigali in 1994.

The prosecutor indicted Ngirumpatse and his co-accused Edouard Karemera, Vice President of 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.

Led in his examination in chief by the defendant's lead-counsel, Chantal Hounkpatin, the witness said his uncle was the kind of personality who would listen to people and sort out their problems without discrimination.

"He was blamed for having too many Tutsi friends. In fact even the housemaid was Tutsi," the witness explained to the Chamber led by Judge Dennis Byron.

He went on explaining that he was living in the house of his uncle in Kigali between April 6, 1994 when the news of the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash broke until April 10, 1994 when they left the house to seek refugee at Hotel des Diplomates, following deterioration of security.

He said about 20 people came to the house of Ngirumpatse during the period and left with them to Hotel des Diplomates and hence traveled to Gitarama on April 12, 1994 when the Interim government went to settle after the escalation of the massacres in Kigali city.   

"I never saw any political meeting take place in the house of my uncle during the whole period," he alleged in response to the defence question adding that " Mathieu's residence was a family home and people did not gather there for political meetings."

Asked by prosecuting counsel, Maria Wilson during cross examination whether his uncle had time to leave the house during the time in question, the witness said he only left the house twice but he could not remember exactly when.

The 13th defence witness for Ngirumpatse completed his evidence and the trial continues on Tuesday.


© Hirondelle News Agency