Arusha, October 30, 2001 (FH) - Two consecutive defence witnesses on Monday and Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former Bicumbi mayor and genocide suspect Laurent Semanza maintained good relations with people in his commune and initiated many development projects. The 14th defence witness, SDN1, on Tuesday told the court Semanza could not have participated in the 1994 massacres, because he maintained a good relationship with his people.

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"He was regarded as a father of the commune," another protected witness, CBM1, told the court on Monday. The witness was led in examination in chief by Semanza's co-counsel Sadikou Alao of Benin. Protected witness SDN1 also said that the killings in 1994 were a continuation of massacres that started earlier. "The massacres started before 1994," he told the court. "I would say they begun from 1990 and continued even in the refugee camps up to 1996. "SDN1 said that as early as 1990, pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) guerrillas were said to have tortured Hutus in a selective manner in collaboration with its infiltrators in the country. He gave the names of some Hutus, including the mayor of Kanzenze Fidel Rwambuka, as people reportedly killed by the RPF. According to SDN1, Hutus fortified the gates to their homes following the killings. In response to prosecutor Chile Eboe Osuji of Nigeria/Canada, the witness denied he was contradicting statements made to UN investigators. Prosecution maintained the witness had earlier indicated that Hutus did more than fortify their gates. In his testimony, CBM1 said that Semanza did "a lot of good things" with regard to providing health facilities, education, water supply and electricity. But CBM1 told the court that during the multiparty period, the 'Rwandan Patriotic Front radio' Radio Muhabura criticised Semanza and he was subsequently dismissed from his position. 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 and Gikoro communes. He has pleaded not guilty. CBM1 also echoed the testimony of two previous witnesses who told the court of the killing of a Tutsi called Tharcisse Gatwa. According to CBM1, Semanza offered Gatwa employment at Apega School in Bicumbi because he "pitied Gatwa's children". CBM1 said Gatwa was killed on April 8th when police came to his house because they suspected he was hiding weapons. In cross-examination, the witness denied that Interahamwe militia were present during the killing of Gatwa. CBM1 also said he did not see or hear of Semanza training or distributing arms to Interahamwe in Bicumbi before or during the 1994 events. He testified partly in closed session. The hearing continues before judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/PHD/FH (SE1030E)