Arusha, October 26, 2011 (FH) - Former Rwandan senior public officer Jean Baptiste Byilingiro Wednesday supported the defence of alibi for ex-Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware over his presence in Kigali Capital, during early days of genocide between April 6 and 12, 1994.

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Byilingiro, who was Director of the National Program for Social Action under the Ministry of Planning, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, he sought refuge at the Presidential Guard camp and remained there the whole night. "At around 11pm a number of politicians joined us at the camp in a small office. Among them was Augustin Ngirabatware," the director said.

Byilingiro alleged further that on April 7, 1994 he left the camp to his home and later went to the French Embassy together with his family. On the next day, he said, the number of refugees at the embassy increased tremendously.

"I remember very well that Ngirabatware and his family arrived on that day," the witness said. According to him, they remained at the embassy as from that day until April 12, 1994 when they were evacuated to Kanombe Airport by French soldiers.

In cross-examination by prosecuting attorney Rashid Rashid, the witness admitted, among others, that when applying for refugee status in Belgium in 1999 and 2000, he never mentioned that he went to the presidential guard camp for safety after the killing of President Habyarimana.

"I did not think it was relevant to mention that considering the nature of my application," Byilingiro quickly responded.

The prosecution has been alleging that between April 6 and 8, 1994, Ngirabatware was in his home prefecture of Gisenyi, Central Rwanda, busy distributing rifles, grenades and even inciting the population to kill Tutsis.

However, the defendant has consistently produced evidence, through several witnesses, maintaining that between April 6 and 12, 1994, he never left Kigali.

The defence hearing continues Thursday. Ngirabatware is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and extermination and rape as crimes against humanity.

He was arrested in Germany on September 17, 2007 and transferred to ICTR custody on October 8, 2008. His trial took off on September 22, 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency