Arusha, April 19, 2001 (FH) – Prosecution in the genocide trial of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza is expected to present its last two witnesses shortly. Semanza's trial for genocide and crimes against humanity began on October 16th , 2000 before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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The last two people to testify for the prosecution will be French sociologist André Guichaoua and former UN special rapporteur on human rights in Rwanda René Degni-Segui of Ivory Coast. Both men have already testified as expert witnesses in other cases before the ICTR. Guichaoua is expected to testify when Semanza's trial resumes on Monday. On Wednesday the court heard three witnesses who all testified regarding an audiotape produced as prosecution evidence. The witnesses were an investigator, a translator and a protected witness, dubbed "VN" to protect his identity. The audiocassette is a recording of an intercepted telephone conversation between Semanza, his son and two other people during the 1994 genocide. According to the tape transcripts one of the people, Juvénal Rugambarara, is recorded telling Semanza that "not only those from Kibungo but also from Bicumbi are running away, I have massacred them and I believe tomorrow we shall wipe them out completely". Rugambarara was mayor of Bicumbi, central Rwanda, during the genocide, a position he took over from Semanza. At the time of the genocide, Semanza had stepped down as mayor but was allegedly very influential. The ex-mayor had been nominated by the former single party MRND as a member of the transitional parliament to be set up under the 1993 Arusha peace accord. Prosecution investigator Kaiser Rizvi of Bangladesh told the court that he recorded the tape from an original one in the archives of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) secretariat in Kigali. He said he did not know how the RPF (former Tutsi guerrilla movement, now in power in Kigali) had obtained the cassette. Semanza is charged with fourteen counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, relating to massacres of Tutsis in the communes of Bicumbi and Gikoro in 1994. He has pleaded not guilty. The case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GG/JC/FH (SE0419e)