Page last updated at 22:30 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 23:30 UK

Rwanda official in genocide trial

Rwanda genocide survivor praying next to skulls (file picture)
A survivor of the genocide prays at a mass grave

A former Rwandan cabinet minister has gone on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, charged with taking part in the 1994 genocide.

The prosecution said the defendant, Callixte Kalimanzira, participated in the massacre of thousands of ethnic Tutsis who had approached him for help.

Mr Kalimanzira has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

An estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were killed during the genocide campaign by Hutu extremists.

'Key role'

Christine Graham, representing the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), said Mr Kalimanzira had played a "key role" in the massacre of Tutsis.

Ms Graham said that in 1994 thousands of Tutsi refugees had approached Mr Kalimanzira - who was then caretaker interior minister - seeking his help.

Instead, she alleged, the accused had participated in their massacre.

Ms Graham said the killings were carried out over several days by soldiers and militia on a hill at Kibuye, in southern Rwanda.

The ICTR was set up by the UN in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, in 1997, to try the most high-profile genocide cases.

Those tried so far include government ministers, members of parliament, and military officers.

Twenty-eight people have been convicted and five acquitted so far.

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