Arusha, December, 7th, 2000 (FH) - A genocide survivor on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that 60 members of his family were killed during the month of April 1994, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. Witness 'VAP' is testifying in the trial of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza.

1 min 13Approximate reading time

VAP told the court that his family members, together with other Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in attacks in Bicumbi, central Rwanda, carried out under the instructions of Semanza. The victims of these attacks, he said, included his father and five of his father's children. Semanza, a former mayor of Bicumbi, is charged with 14 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity related to massacres of Tutsis in the communes of Gikoro and Bicumbi, central Rwanda, in 1994. At the time of the genocide, Semanza was a nominated member of parliament of the MRND party, and was allegedly very influential. VAP gave a graphic description of how his 10-year-old nephew died on April 10th in a fruitless attempt to escape attackers. "We tried to run away from the attackers," the witness told the court. "At one point, the kid got tired and I had to go back to assist him. We were both too tired to run on and they captured us. We were then told to close our eyes and lie down. They then attacked those who were lying down and started cutting and beating us up randomly. " He said he was beaten up with nail studded clubs and left for dead whereas his nephew was killed. VAP said he still suffers from the physical effects of this attack. He further testified that his pregnant sister-in-law was dismembered and her foetus together with her body thrown into a ditch. VAP is the ninth prosecution witness in the trial. Semanza is appearing before Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), George Williams of Jamaica and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GG/JC/FH(SE%0712E)