11.11.10 - ICTR/NDAHIMANA - FORMER RWANDAN MAYOR REWARDED ASSAILANTS, CLAIMS WITNESS

Arusha, November 11, 2010 (FH) - A prosecution witness alleged before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday that former mayor Grégoire Ndahimana rewarded cows to some assailants who participated in attacking Tutsis who sought refuge at Nyange church in Kivumu Commune, Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda), in April 1994.
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"Several people passed along the road close to my house with several cows. When I asked where they got them they said they had been rewarded by Ndahimana," the witness code named CNT to protect his identity claimed during cross-examination by the defendant's lead counsel Bharat Chadha.

The witness, who also conceded to have participated in the attack and subsequent killing of the Tutsis at the church together with others, admitted that he was not present when the cows were being distributed since he left immediately after the church had collapsed.

"I was present at Nyange parish when the church was being destroyed. After the last wall had fallen on the refugees I left for my home," the witness alleged. About 2,000 Tutsi refugees were killed following the crumble of the church.

The witness refuted the suggestion by defence counsel that Ndahimana was in the death list from people from Kibirira in Rwanda's northern Gisenyi. The lawyer had suggested that those people, who had also come at the parish to reinforce the attack against the Tutsis, had wanted to kill the mayor on claims that he was an agent of the then Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) Tutsi rebels.

"I do not agree with you. Persons from Kibirira were only attacking Tutsis and Ndahimana was not a Tutsi," the witness told the court in answer to the question by the counsel.

Ndahimana is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination as crime against humanity. He was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009.

 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, 2010.

FK/NI/ER/GF

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