Arusha, January 24, 2011 (FH) - A survivor of massacres at a church in Western Rwanda Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former mayor, Grégoire Ndahimana, was not present when Tutsi refugees were attacked and killed at Nyange Parish in April 1994.

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"I did not see Ndahimana during the attack," said defence witness code-named ND-7 to protect her identity, referring to April 15, 1994, when an extensive attack was launched at the parish. She was testifying for Ndahimana, ex-mayor of Kivumu Commune in Kibuye prefecture.

Examined by defendant's lead counsel Bharat Chadha, the witness, currently living in Rwanda,  failed to hold back her tears when accounting the horror she encountered during the attack. The court had to rise for ten minutes to allow her calm down.

On resumption, the witness claimed to have cheated death after escaping to a presbytery room where she remained in hiding until April 17, 1994 when Ndahimana came to the parish and took her alongside 26 other injured survivors to the health centre for treatment.

According to the witness, there had been other attacks, including that of April 16, 1994 when the church at the parish was completed destroyed, killing several other Tutsi refugees, and she did not see Ndahimana around.

Doubting the witness's testimony, Trial Attorney Segun Jegede wanted to know how she could see what was going on at the parish, including the arrival of Ndahimana while she had gone into hiding. However, the witness maintained, "the window was near. We could stand and peep through and see what was happening."

She mentioned other authorities who led the attacks as Fulgence Kayishema, former judicial police inspector of the commune, Telesphore Ndungutse and Anasthase Rushema, both teachers. She also saw Father Athanase Seromba, currently serving life imprisonment, as he was always with authorities and attackers.

The trial continues Tuesday. Ndahimana, who is charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination, as a crime against humanity, allegedly planned the massacres at Nyange Parish jointly with other officials.


© Hirondelle News Agency