Arusha, June 13, 2001 (FH) The first prosecution witness in the trial of six former Rwandan leaders charged with genocide crimes in Butare, southern Rwanda, started his testimony on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). UN investigator Shukri Gandhi presented maps of Rwanda and Butare, plus photographs of Ngoma church (in Butare) as prosecution exhibits.

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Prosecution says that an estimated 26,000 people were killed in Ngomaduring the 1994 massacres. The so-called Butare trial groups former Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. Canadian defence counsel Pierre Boulé for Ndayambaje objected to the submission of the maps, saying that the investigator went to the sites years after the events of 1994. Accused Ntahobali also opposed the maps,saying they had not been dated. But the objections were overruled. The witness said the maps were official and were dated April 20th, 1999. Gandhi also produced seven photographs and a video on the Ngoma Church. Most of the defence counsel objected to the photographs, but the court overruled the objections saying that the issues raised could be done so during cross-examination. The hearing adjourned after the chamber viewed the video. The witness told the court that he joined the ICTR in November 1996, that he was a captain in the Jordanian police force and an expert in crime scene examination. He was responding to questions by Tanzanian prosecutor Japheth Mono. Gandhi said he visited various sites in Rwanda in October 2000 and took photographs, made sketches and videos. He added that he was accompanied at the sites by three other investigators and that witnesses or people living and working in these areas assisted them. The prosecution maintains that the six suspects were prominent personalities in positions of power during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and that they "were responsible for the tragedy (killings) in Butare". The hearing continues Thursday before Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. SW/JC/FH (BT0613e)