Arusha, November 1, 2010 (FH) - A prosecution witness claimed Monday that former mayor of Kivumu Commune in Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda), Grégoire Ndahimana, also participated in the attack and killing of Tutsis who had taken refuge inside the Nyange Church on April 16, 1994.

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"Ndahimana opened fire through doors and windows of the church. (Fulgence) Kayishema came after him. Ndahimana fired towards women where they had sat inside the church. I saw him on my own eyes," the witness code named CBR to protect his identity told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Kayishema was Judicial Police Inspector of the commune. Led by Trial Attorney Segun Jegede, the seventh prosecution witness testified that the shooting, which lasted for about 30 minutes, was witnessed by other officials of the commune. They included Vedaste Murangwabugabo, the assistant mayor and teacher Telesphore Ndungutse.

Also present at the church were prominent businessman, Gaspard Kanyarukiga and parish priest Athanase Seromba. Kanyarukiga was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on Monday by a Trial Chamber for the role he played in the massacres at the church, while Seromba was jailed for life by the Appeals Chamber for similar involvement.

"It was sometimes a continuous shooting. We had surrounded the church to see whether a refugee could escape," the witness, who also participated in the attack, said without clarifying whether other communal officials also took part in the shooting.

The witness told the Tribunal further that after the seizure of the firing operation, communal officials led by Ndahimana went back to the office of the priest and Kanyarukiga spoke loudly saying, "This church should be demolished and will be rebuilt within three days." At the time Kanyarukiga was speaking, Ndahimana stood besides him.

After such statement, the witness said, Kayishema went out and directed bulldozers stationed outside the courtyard of the church to be brought in for the demolition exercise.  The witness claimed that the operation took off at around 11.00 am and ended late afternoon. He claimed that several Tutsi refugees who had gathered inside were killed.

The witness went further saying that the decision to demolish the House of God followed a foiled attempt to blow up the church using fuel and dynamites explosives on April 15, 1994.

Hearing of case continues Tuesday. Ndahimana is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination as crime against humanity. Between April 6 and 20, 1994, it is alleged, he was responsible for killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to Tutsis.

Ndahimana allegedly planned the massacres at Nyange Parish jointly with Father Seromba, Kanyarukiga and Kayishema, who is in the wanted list to be indicted at ICTR. In these massacres, more than 2.000 Tutsi refugees were killed.

Born in 1952, Ndahimana was arrested on August 10, 2009 at a refugee camp of Kachuga in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on August 21, 2009.

He made his initial appearance on September 28, 2009 and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. His trial took off on September 6.


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