Arusha, September 25, 2001 (FH) - Seventh Day Adventist pastor and genocide suspect Elizaphan Ntakirutimana lured Tutsi refugees to a church complex that was later to be attacked by a force he led, a prosecution witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday. Some 5,000 Tutsis were killed in the attack on Mugonero Seventh Day Adventist complex (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda) on April 16th, 1994, according to the prosecution.

1 min 19Approximate reading time

Pastor Elizaphan is being jointly tried with his son Gerard Ntakirutimana. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Mugonero. Gerard was a doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The two are charged with five counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during the 1994 genocide. Witness 'HH', named as such to shield his identity, said that the Tutsis invited to take refuge at Mugonero had initially fled to Bisesero hills and other places in Kibuye. HH said Pastor Elizaphan had asked him personally to go and persuade Tutsis, especially employees of the complex, to come to Mugonero so their security could be ensured. "I personally convinced four people to come back," HH told the court. About three days later, he said, "Pastor Ntakirutimana and Gerard arrived at the complex driving two truckloads of gendarmes (military police) and armed civilians. " The people in the vehicles, together with other attackers, then started shooting and killing the refugees, the witness continued. HH is the fifth prosecution witness. He told the court he was a Tutsi survivor of the attack on Mugonero. At the height of the killings there, HH said, he hid in the ceiling of the infirmary. This trial began on September 18, 2001. Prosecutors have said they plan to call a total of 24 witnesses. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and new judge Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. Judge Pillay is currently away for a week on mission. GG/JC/PHD/NK0925e)