Arusha, October 30, 2001 (FH) - Genocide suspect Doctor Gerald Ntakirutimana was appointed as leader of a militia group that was to attack Tutsis in the Bisesero hills (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda) during the 1994 genocide, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. Protected prosecution witness "UU" testified that Gerald had been appointed by former Rwandan Information Minister Eliezer Niyitegeka (Niyitegeka is in detention at the ICTR awaiting trial).

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The appointment was announced during a meeting in Kibuye to evaluate the success of the killings in Kibuye, UU told the court. Gerald Ntakirutimana is being jointly tried with his father, Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana . At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Mugonero in Kibuye. Gerald was a medical 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. UU said he was a Tutsi survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He told the court that he had attended the meeting in the guise of a Hutu, to avoid suspicion if he stayed away from the meeting. He said that he had accompanied a Hutu militia friend and protector. Witness UU also told the court that in another meeting during the same month of June, 1994, Gerald and other militia leaders had been handed boxes of guns by Niyitegeka. The guns, UU, said were to be used to kill Tutsis. In a meeting held after an attack on Bisesero, UU quoted Gerald as having told militias that Hutus had to "uproot the thorns such that we never come across them again". Thorns, UU said, meant Tutsis. UU told the court that he had personally accompanied the attackers in a bid to avoid any suspicion that he was Tutsi. He said that he kept close to his militia leader friend all the time. UU also told the court that he had been part of an attack that killed his sister. "However," he said, " I withdrew from the group when I saw my sister but was later told of her death". 'UU' is the 13th prosecution witness. Two more witnesses, a factual witness and an expert witness, are expected to testify before the prosecution closes its case. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. GG/JC/PHD/FH (NK1030E)