Arusha, December 6th, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza called for presidential guards to help kill Tutsis in the Ruhanga area of central Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR) on Wednesday. Prosecution witness "VF" said that on the morning of April 10th, 1994, Semanza called in a radio broadcast for the presidential guard and weapons to be sent to Ruhanga.

1 min 37Approximate reading time

The witness added that the ex-mayor said the "work in Bicumbi was finished and all he had to do was clean up the dirt". 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 in 1994. At the time of the genocide, Semanza was a nominated member of parliament of the MRND party, and was allegedly very influential. The witness, dubbed VF to protect her identity, is a Tutsi female survivor of the genocide. She told the court that on April 10th, 1994 the mayor of Gikoro commune, Paul Bisengimana, came to their area accompanied by soldiers and started shooting at people. The witness said that as she fledtowards Ruhanga, she saw Semanza in a vehicle carrying armed soldiers. At Ruhanga, the refugees were hiding at a small centre, and "I hid in a classroom", said VF. After some time, the attackers said there was no need to continue shooting because those who remained in the classrooms were only women and children and that "they would leave the Interahamwe (militia) to kill them using machetes and hoes," she said. VF said survivors were evicted from the classrooms and asked to raise their hands by soldiers of the presidential guard, who led them to the local militia. "We followed the order and went to where the Interahamwe were, and they started undressing us. Yes, I was undressed, the upper part of mybody", the witness said. The witness said that the refugees were then sprayed with petrol and set alight while others were beaten with clubs. She added that many including herself and her parents were injured but some survived with injuries. The hearing was briefly interrupted for a report on the health of Semanza, who had earlier complained of dental problems. A doctor who saw him early Wednesday pronounced the accused fit enough to sit through trial, but submitted a medical report to the court. Semanza is appearing before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), George Williams of Jamaica and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/FH (SE%1206E )