Arusha, November 7th, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan mayor and genocidesuspect Laurent Semanza told people in his region that Tutsis should bekilled and thrown into two rivers, a prosecution witness told theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday. The third prosecution witness, a Tutsi woman dubbed "VC" to protect heridentity, said Semanza told a public meeting in Gikoro commune (KigaliRural prefecture, central Rwanda) that Tutsis should be killed.

1 min 26Approximate reading time

Semanza wasmayor of neighbouring BicumbiVC said Semanza had been invited to address the meeting by the mayor ofGikoro commune, Paul Bisengimana. She said the meeting was mandatory andthat those who did not attend were arrested. During this meeting, she said, Semanza told the people that Tutsis would bekilled. Those in Gikoro, he said, would be thrown into Lake Muhazi andthose in Bicumbi into Lake Mugasera, so that "the bodies would go rightback to Ethiopia where they had originally come from". "I can swear in the name of God that I heard him," witness VC told thecourt. "I was there in that meeting. . . yes, I saw him with my own eyes. " Shesaid this meeting was held before the killings in April 1994 began. The witness said that Semanza had called an earlier meeting in January 1994near Lake Muhazi in Gikoro commune. She said she was warned by the leaderof a "cell" (smallest administrative unit) who attended the meeting that ithad discussed plans to kill Tutsis, and that the authorities had givenweapons to the cell leaders to distribute. A few days after the meeting near Lake Muhazi, Tutsis were harrassed andstoned to an extent where some had to abandon their homes and spend thenight in the bush, the witness told the court. She said that the authorities perceived Tutsis and those who were notmembers of the former single party MRND as enemies. A young Hutu man whohad left the MRND and joined the Liberal Party was killed, she said. Semanza, was a central committee member of the MRND and allegedly veryinfluential. He is charged with 14 counts of genocide and crimes againsthumanity related to massacres of Tutsis in the communes of Gikoro andBicumbi in 1994. The prosecution also accuses him of working in closeco-operation with Bisengimana to organise and execute massacres at theMusha church in Gikoro commune, where several thousand Tutsis had takenrefuge. SW/JC/FH (SE%1106e)