Arusha, June 6, 2011 (FH) - Genocide-convict Alphonse Higaniro, who is serving his sentence in Belgium, Monday backed up the defence of alibi for Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana, claiming towards the end of April 1994, the defendant was not in the Rwanda's Western prefecture of Butare.

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"His wife told me that he (Nizeyimana) was not living in Butare. He had been sent on mission in Gikongoro," Higaniro, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by Belgian Judiciary in 2001 for war crimes for his involvement in Rwanda genocide, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in his testimony via video-link from Brussels.

The defence alleges that between end of April and mid May, 1994, Nizeyimana was not in Butare. He was in Mata, Gokongoro prefecture, where he was assigned a mission to set up a training centre for coaching new recruits.

However, the prosecution claims that during the period in question, the defendant was at the Noncommissioned Officers School (ESO) in Butare where, as in charge of intelligence and military operations, ordered or instigated soldiers to kill Tutsi civilians at various locations in the region.

According to Higaniro, a former Managing Director of Sorwal Matchstick Factory, he last saw Nizeyimana in Butare on April 7, 1994, when he left for Kigali to collect the body of his deceased father-in-law, who died alongside President Juvenal Habyarimana in the plane crush a day before and later left for Gisenyi for burial arrangements.

Led by the defendant's Co-counsel Cainnech Lussiaa-Berdou, the witness, who was testifying in French said he went back to Butare at the end of April to find means and ways to re-launch the factory. After holding a brief meeting with senior staff, he said, he went to Nizeyimana, who was his friend to say hello to him, but he was not there.

The trial continues Tuesday. The defendant, who is charged with genocide, extermination, murder and rape, was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day.


© Hirondelle News Agency