22.02.11 - ICTR/NDAHIMANA - "NDAHIMANA WAS OVERWHELMED BY MRND MILITIAS" (WITNESS)

Arusha, February 22, 2011 (FH) - A witness testifying for the defence of former Rwanda mayor Gregoire Ndahimana Tuesday alleged before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the accused was overwhelmed by the violence and killings committed by militias of the ruling MRND party in Rwanda in 1994.
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‘'The authorities were overwhelmed. The MRND militias almost became mad everywhere. They controlled Kivumu, Gitarama, Kigali and everywhere,'' Melane Nkiliyehe told the Chamber presided by Judge Florence Rita Arrey during examination in-chief led by the accused Co-counsel, Wilfred Ndiritu.

Nkiliyehe hails from Kivumu commune (Western Rwanda). He claimed that ‘'the militiamen did not listen to mayor Ndahimana when he called for calm.''

The witness also said that when he visited the accused late May, 1994 at his residence in Kivumu, he told him that roadblocks erected in his commune and escalation of massacres were the result of sabotage from people who had personal grudges with him.

‘'He did what he could to control the situation regardless the madness of the militias,'' the witness added.

When Prosecution Attorney Holo Makwaia suggested that the time the witness spent with the accused when he visited him had been too short to conclude that he was overwhelmed by Interahamwe, the witness said the five minutes he mentioned in his evidence were an estimation.

‘'I got this conclusion from the conversation I had with Ndahimana for five or 10 minutes but also other people I met told me about it. In fact it was the general atmosphere throughout the country,'' Nkiliyehe explained.   

The case continues Wednesday. Ndahimana's defence case opened on January 17. The accused denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

He was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009 and then transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha. His trial opened on September 6, 2010.

NI/GF  

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