Arusha, November 22, 2010 (FH) - The prosecution has asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to conduct a visit at Nyange parish in Western Rwanda where thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge were killed during the 1994 genocide.

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The parish is situated in Kivumu Commune, Kibuye prefecture, where genocide-accused Grégoire Ndahimana is alleged to have been responsible for the killings of Tutsi refugees. Ndahimana, the former mayor of the commune, is currently charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination as crime against humanity.

"A visit to the site of the events that are the subject of the present trial is necessary in the interests of justice. In order to adequately evaluate the testimony of the witnesses in the matter and to discover the truth of the evidence put forward before it, it is necessary that the Trial Chamber view the site locus in quo," the prosecution appealed in its motion published in the ICTR website.

Apart from the parish, including the church area, presbytery and its secretariat, the prosecution also proposes the visit to be conducted at the former Kivumu commune office, areas adjacent to the parish, including fields belonging to the parish in 1994, Nyange trading centre, the Virgin Mary Statue and former pharmacy of businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga.

However, the defence replied that the application was premature as the trial was currently half way and other locations and sites, which may require a visit, would arise during the defence evidence presentation.

Presentation of the defence case has been scheduled for January 17, next year. The prosecution completed presenting its case on November 19, 2010 after calling 14 witnesses.

"A site visit to Rwanda at this of proceeding cannot be instrumental in the full discovery of the truth and determination of the matter pending before the Trial Chamber," the defence submitted in its response to the prosecution's motion.

Ndahimana is alleged to have planned the massacres at Nyange Parish jointly with several other officials, including Kanyarukiga, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and parish priest, Father Athanase Seromba, who has since been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Another person who allegedly played a role in the massacres at the church is genocide-suspect still at large, Fulgence Kayishema, who was judicial police inspector of the commune. In these massacres, the prosecution alleges that more than 2000 Tutsi refugees were killed.

Ndahimana, born in 1952, 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.


© Hirondelle News Agency