Arusha, November 9th, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan Mayor Laurent Semanzaordered the training of assailants and participated in the killings ofTutsi in the 1994 genocide, a witness told the International CriminalTribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Thursday. The fourth prosecution witness, dubbed "VN" to protect his identity, saidthat Semanza participated in the training of assailants includingInterahamwe militia who attacked Tutsis in Bicumbi in the Kigali Province,Central Rwanda.

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Semanza, 56 a former mayor of Bicumbi, is charged with 14 counts ofgenocide and crimes against humanity related to massacres of Tutsis in thecommunes of Gikoro and Bicumbi in 1994. At the time of the genocide,Semanza was a nominated member of parliament of the MRND party, and wasallegedly very influential. Witness VN told the court that Semanza inaugurated the start of a sessionin which "people were trained to handle guns" in a forest near the communeoffice in Bicumbi. He said that communal officials, policemen and othersparticipated. Semanza, the witness said, was only present on the first dayof this training but maintained control through the commune officials. VN said that Semanza called a meeting for communal authorities in Bicumbiafter the death of the former President was announced on April 7th. Thewitness added that the people who attended it emerged with arms, while theyhad gone there empty-handed. The arms were obtained from the communaloffice the witness said, and that no Tutsi or moderate Hutu was allowed toattend the meeting. After the meeting Tutsi were attacked and they fled their homes to theMwulire Hills on April 8th, and further to Rwamagana Parish in Kibungocommune, neighbouring Bicumbi, VN said. "I would say that it was the good God who saved us," said VN who lost sixmembers of this family at Mwulire Hill. But Semanza and other officials from Bicumbi commune pursued the refugeesat Rwamagana Parish, the witness said. The former Mayor allegedly told thecommandant of Rwamagana gendarmerie to ask the citizens of Bicumbi toreturn home because there was peace, according to VN. Some refugeesattempted to flee back to Mwulire Hills and others to cross the LakeMuhazi, he said. Thereafter, attacks continued from April 11th and the witness said he sawSemanza on the 18th when the last major scale attacked was carried out. Semanza brought Interahamwes and their equipment aboard a red pickupbelonging to the APEDA School, said VN. He identified a picture of Semanza's house presented by prosecutor ChileOsuji. VN told the court that the house was partly damaged because a fightbetween the RPF soldiers and Interahamwes camping there took place towardthe end of April. The witness said that Semanza stored bulk of ammunitionin his residence. Semanza is appearing before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed ofjudges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), George Williams of Jamaicaand Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. The case continues on Monday 13th with thecross examination by defence. SW/JC/FH (SE%1110E )