Arusha, November 27, 2001 (FH) - Former Bicumbi mayor and genocide suspect Laurent Semanza was wanted by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) even before the 1994 events in Rwanda, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday. The twenty- second defence witness, dubbed "BGN2" to shield his identity, told the court that "Semanza was said to have fled naked" because pro-Tutsi RPF rebels were after him when the killings started in April 1994.

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The witness said he had been told this by people who were near Semanza's home at the time. BGN2 said that before the killings started, the RPF's Radio Muhabura announced that the rebels wanted Semanza to join them because he was an important person, who did a lot for his people. "RPF wanted him to become a member and even the people of Bicumbi to join them, but the people refused," said BGN2. Semanza, a former mayor of Bicumbi (Kigali prefecture in central Rwanda) is charged with 14 counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity including rape and persecution in Bicumbi andGikoro communes. He has pleaded not guilty. BGN2 told the court that although he was not an eyewitness he heard people say that the RPF surrounded Semanza's house in April 1994 seeking to kill him. The witness said he (BGN2) fled Bicumbi on April 25th and while in flight saw Semanza in Gitarama on May 12th. He also said that: "We took the road to Goma (ex-Zaire) together" in May. Another protected defence witness, "CYS", who testified on Monday and Tuesday, told the court he saw Semanza on April 9th, 1994, in Gitarama town, central Rwanda. CYS said that he also saw Semanza in Gisenyi, western Rwanda, and again on a separate occasion among people who were going towards Zaire. "I saw Semanza, he was among people fleeing towards Zaire. "The prosecution maintains that between April 9th and 13th, 1994, Semanza went to various locations instigating killings in Bicumbi and Gikoro communes. According to prosecution, Semanza was also involved in the distribution of arms and training of militia. But both BGN2 and CYS told the court they did not see or hear of it in their locations. The hearing continues Wednesday, with the testimony of the twenty-third defence witness before judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/DO/FH (SE1127e)