Arusha, February 8, 2000 (FH) - A prosecution witness on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema distributed arms and ordered the killing of ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Witness "Z", a 44-year-old Hutu man, was the second of three Hutu prisoners brought from Rwandan jails to testify against Bagilishema at the ICTR.

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Like the first prisoner, "Z" has confessed to participating in the genocide. "I have pleaded guilty and I have confessed," he told the court. He said he had killed two men and helped to kill one woman. All his victims were Tutsi. Witness Z also said he had helped to man a roadblock near the Mabanza communal offices from April 14th, 1994, until the arrival of French soldiers more than two months later. Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza commune (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda). Witness Z, the fifteenth in this trial, said it was Bagilishema who had ordered the setting up of roadblocks, where Tutsis and their alleged accomplices were singled out to be killed. The witness said Bagilishema could have stopped the massacres in Mabanza if he had wanted to. "Even the Abakiga warriors, who came from the high mountains of the north, respected his orders," Witness Z told the judges. He further told the court that Bagilishema had on April 12th, 1994, ordered all Tutsis seeking refuge at the Mabanza communal offices to go to Kibuye "for security", and said that those who were still in their villages should be "found and killed". Refugees who went to Kibuye were subsequently massacred at Kibuye stadium. Witness Z said Bagilishema had also distributed arms to the people who went to attack Tutsis seeking refuge in the hills of Bisesero. "The Tutsis had all gone to Bisesero," he said, "including survivors from the massacres at Kibuye stadium and Mount Karongi. " However, he said he did not know if Bagilishema had personally gone to Bisesero. Witness accuses French soldiersWitness Z, a former soldier, also said that French soldiers of "Opération Turquoise" had been involved in arms distribution. "I know that weapons were distributed at the roadblock where I was," he said. "Some people got them from the French, and people said arms were also being distributed in Kibuye. "Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza commune during the genocide which left up to one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead between April and July 1994. He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. CR/JC/FH (BS%0208e)