Arusha, September 22, 2011 (FH) - The lawyer for former Rwandan mayor, Gregoire Ndahimana, Thursday requested the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to acquit his client on genocide charges he is facing, for bearing no criminal responsibilities.

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"Ndahimana bears no criminal responsibilities for crimes as alleged in the indictment. He deserves an acquittal because he took all measures within his powers to prevent their occurrences," the defendant's Co-counsel, Wilfred Nderitu, alleged when presenting closing arguments for the defence.

In the indictment, the prosecution charged Ndahimana, ex-Mayor of Kivumu commune in Kibuye prefecture, Western Rwanda, with genocide, complicity in genocide, as alternative count and extermination, as a crime against humanity. He allegedly planned massacres of Tutsis at Nyange Church in his commune between April 14 and 16, 1994.

According to the lawyer, his client denies taking part in the crimes committed at Nyange church, where more than 2,000 Tutsis were killed. He claimed that prosecution witnesses who testified to support the claims were not credible, following discrepancies of their testimony and previous statements they made regarding the killings.

To the contrary, he submitted, defence witnesses produced undisputed evidence of alibi, showing that Ndahimana was not present at the massacre site at the time the offences were committed.  "The sow of justice cuts both ways. Ndahimana had and will continue to have sympathy for the victims at Nyange church and those affected by genocide in Rwanda. But we are here to weigh whether he bears criminal responsibility. We submit Ndahimana is innocent," the counsel argued.

He concluded, "on the face of facts of the case, Ndahimana cannot be held criminally liable. He deserves compassion and not condemnation or conviction."

After the presentation of the arguments, presiding Judge Florence Rita Arrey announced that delivery of judgment would be before the end of the year.  Ndahimana's trial took off September 6, 2010.

He was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 10, 2009 and transferred to United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha on August 21, the same year.


© Hirondelle News Agency