Arusha, May 13, 2011 (FH) - The defence for former Rwandan Mayor Grégoire Ndahimana Thursday closed its case after calling 30 witnesses for its client before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The last witness called was businessman Anicet Tumusenge, currently living in Belgium, who claimed to have driven Ndahimana, who was Mayor of Kivumu Commune, Kibuye prefecture in Western Rwanda, to the governor's office where he went to seek assistance of gendarmes following attacks of Tutsis who took refuge at Nyange Parish in the commune.

Following the closure, the Presiding Judge Florence Rita Arrey ordered the parties to prepare for the site visit starting June 7 to 10, 2011 in Rwanda. Among areas to be visited include the Nyange parish and its environs.

Other areas are 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.

Judge Arrey further ordered that both prosecution and defence should file their closing briefs simultaneously on July 25, 2011. "Oral arguments will be presented on September 21 and 22, 2011," she declared.   

Ndahimana opened his defence case on January 17, 2011 to counter charges of genocide or complicity in genocide, in the alternative and extermination, as a crime against humanity, he is facing.

He is accused of planning massacres of Tutsis who sought refuge at the Nyange Church between April 14 and 16, 1994, jointly with other officials, including the parish priest, father Athanase Seromba, currently serving life imprisonment sentence for his involvement.

Others are businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for similar offence and Fulgence Kayishema, former Judicial Police Inspector of the commune, who is still at large.  More than 2000 Tutsi refugees were allegedly killed at the church.

Ndahimana was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on August 10, 2009. He was transferred to Arusha on August 21, 2009.  He made his initial appearance on September 28, 2009 and denied all the charges.

His trial took off on September 6, 2010 and the prosecution called 15 witnesses to support the charges against him before closing its case on November 19, 2010.


© Hirondelle News Agency