Hirondelle News Agency (Switzerland), August 21, 2002
Posted to the web August 22, 2002
The prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) on Wednesday made its final arguments in the genocide trial of Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana. Pastor Ntakirutimana is the first clergyman to be tried for genocide by an International Tribunal.
The prosecution wrapped up and commented on the testimony of its witnesses as they shredded that of defence witnesses.
At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78, was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church mission at Mugonero in Kibuye. Gerald Ntakirutimana, 44, was a medical doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The prosecutor, among other accusations, alleges that the two “summoned” persecuted Tutsis to take refugee at Mugonero complex before bringing in soldiers and militias to kill them. The attack took place on April 16th, 1994. They also allegedly participated in killings of Tutsi refugees in nearby Bisesero hills.
The defence case, among other arguments, contends that the two left Mugonero complex early in the morning of April 16th, 1994, before the attack. Defence witnesses have testified that the two did not return to the complex on that day. The prosecution agrees that they left Mugonero for Gishyita but says that they came back among attackers on that day.
Prosecutor Charles Phillips of Nigeria and the UK told the court that this was especially possible since, according to him, Gishyita was only five kilometers away from Mugonero.
The defence will make its closing arguments on Thursday. The chamber will then retreat to deliberate on the judgement. If found guilty, the two would face up to life imprisonment.