Arusha, June 16, 2011 (FH) -The defence for Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana Thursday closed its case after calling 38 witnesses, with the accused waiving rights to give his own evidence against charges he faces at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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"The accused is not going to testify," Lead Counsel John Philpot informed a Trial Chamber presided over by Judge Lee Muthoga, as he was about to call the last defence witness, Rose Nyirasafari, the wife of the defendant.

Nyirasafari entered the witness box at around noon and smiled after seeing her husband, who in turn grinned too while holding his hands up as a sign of receiving her. Throughout the session, the couple was in smiling faces.

In her examination in chief, the witness alleged, among others, that she saw her neighbour, Professor Pierre Claver Karenzi, who was lecturer at the National University of Rwanda, being escorted by soldiers from the presidential guard before being killed on the way to Hotel Faucon in Butare town (West Rwanda).

According to the indictment, however, it is soldiers from the Noncommissioned Officers School (ESO) who went at professor's home and killed him and his wife after receiving orders from Nizeyimana.

The witness alleged that at the time the professor was killed she was a student at the university (Faculty of Social Science). According to her, she married Nizeyimana in 1995 at Bukavu refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Following the closure of the defence case, the presiding judge adjourned the trial to September 7, 2011, when the Chamber will receive extra evidence from the prosecution aimed at challenging the defence for the accused, who claims that he was not in Butare in months of April and May, 1994.

Capt. Nizeyimana opened his defence case on May 9, 2011 to counter charges of genocide, extermination, murder and rape. According to charges, he allegedly ordered, supervised and organized massacres of Tutsis in various places in Butare, including that of Tutsi Queen Rosalie Gicanda, on April 21, 1994.

He was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in his initial appearance on October 14, 2009.

His trial took off on January 17, 2011 and the prosecution called 38 witnesses, the same number as that of defence, to support the charges before closing its case on February 25, 2011.


© Hirondelle News Agency