Arusha, September 12, 2001 (FH) A lawyer for former Rwandan minister and genocide suspect Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda on Wednesday protested the way a prosecution witness was asked to identify the accused. "Given that the defence is composed entirely of women, and that Kamuhanda is the only man sitting on the defence side of the court, there's nothing easier for the witness than to point to the accused," said Kamuhanda's lawyer Aicha Condé of Guinea.

1 min 26Approximate reading time

The prosecutor had asked the witness to look around the courtroom and point Kamuhanda out. This the witness did, describing Kamuhanda's clothes and where he was sitting. Condé is assisted by co-counsel Grace Amakye of Britain, while the defence team's legal assistants are also women. Kamuhanda was the only man sitting on the left hand side of the courtroom, apart from a blue-uniformed UN security guard. In an opening speech at the start of trial, prosecution said it would call witnesses who would identify the accused. Condé told the court this exercise served no purpose given the situation. Presiding judge William Sekule of Tanzania said the court had taken note of the situation. The sixth prosecution witness, dubbed "GEB" to protect his identity, told the court he had seen Kamuhanda on April 12th, 1994, driving a van with Interahamwe militia in the back. The witness said about five of the Interahamwe were carrying kalashnikov rifles. "The vehicle overtook us going to Gikomero," he told the court, "and shortly afterwards we heard shooting at the Protestant parish. He said refugees fleeing the parish had told him "that they saw Kamuhanda with Interahamwe from Kigali, who had massacred people at the parish". Defence counsel Condé said, however, that a fleeing Tutsi refugee would not have been able to recognize Kamuhanda in a moving vehicle. She also argued that the witness could not recognize her client because he did not know him. The defence also pointed out various contradictions between the witness's oral testimony and his written statement. However, the witness blamed these on ICTR investigators who had taken his written statement. The trial continues on Thursday with the testimony of a new witness. The case is before Trial Chamber Two composed of judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. BN/JC/FH (KH0912E)