Arusha, November 27th, 2002 (FH)- American historian and expert witness in the so-called "Military Trial" Alison Des Forges completed her long testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday. She was the first prosecution witness in the trial involving four former Rwanda military officers accused of genocide.

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Des Forges, a senior advisor (Africa Division) for the Human Rights Watch, has been cross-examined by the three defence attorneys since November 18, 2002, when the trial resumed. She has authored a book "Leave None To Tell The Story," on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The expert witness has also testified in two other cases before the ICTR namely: the trial of ex-mayor of Taba commune Jean Paul Akayesu, (serving sentence), and the so-called " Media Trial". The' Military Trial' groups four former military officers : Théoneste Bagosora a former advisor at the Rwandan defence ministry (chef de cabinet), Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Major Aloys Ntabakuze and General Gratien Kabiligi. They have denied genocide charges for crimes committed during the 1994 massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Civil defence programmeDes Forges was cross-examined in turn by Jean Degli of Togo/France, Kabiligi’s counsel; Gershom Otachi Bw’Omwana Nsengiyumva’s counsel and André Tremblay, of Québec, Ntakabuze’s counsel. The defence attorneys of Kabiligi and Nsengiyumva argued extensively in their cross examination that the military facilitated the arming of the civilians in 1993 in several regions of the country (the so-called civil defence programme) because there had been several attacks on them by the RPF soldiers. According to Des Forges, this programme was in fact a clandestine plan hatched in 1993 by senior government officials to arm the civilians and was later used to execute the 1994 genocide. "The civil defence was meant to assassinate Tutsis and was implemented in October 1993 with no official act formalising it" she said. Des Forges added that political leaders close to former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana began to plan the civilian defence programme in 1993. She admitted there were killings of civilians by RPF before 1994 but argued that there were enough professional military resources and adequate UNAMIR peacekeeping forces to deal with the aggression and that; therefore, the arming of civilians was unnecessary. According to Des Forges, Bagosora distributed unknown number of guns in Gisenyi Prefecture and other 300 arms were distributed in other communes and prefectures. Another defendant in the case, Nsengiyumva, wrote a letter asking for weapons to be supplied to four communes at Gisenyi. She said 900 guns and 54, 000 bullets were supplied following an attack by RPF in the four communes in late 1993. "The intention was not to protect the civilians but to arm them for future conduct. " The armed population were also taught how to shoot and whom to shoot," she said. Killings by RPF soldiersThe defence of Kabiligi also tendered a documentary produced by TV5 of France on the death of Rwanda Former Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga a Hutu, who was murdered in Nairobi on 16 May 1998. It is believed that the RPF is behind Sendashonga’s assassination. But what counsel Degli wanted to demonstrate by showing this documentary to the chamber, was that " if there were systematic killings [in 1994], then it was by the RPF. "Des Forges said though RPF soldiers carried out some killings on civilians before and in 1994,they were not on ethnic basis. She explained that when the RPF soldiers attacked civilians, they would even kill the Tutsis because they happened to be at the place of attack. Another issue brought forward by counsel Otachi was the opposition to the Arusha Peace Accord (signed in 1993) by soldiers and military officers. Des Forges confirmed that “some, not all” of the soldiers and military officers who were against the Peace Accord organised mutinies in Gisenyi, Rehengeri and Kanombe in May 1992. She said it was because they feared being demobilised after the accord. "The prime Minister said soldiers would be demobilised and would do other jobs of draining swamps. The soldiers thought this was inappropriate work and not for people of their class," Des Forges said. Spontaneous violence versus plan for genocideDuring the conclusion of his cross-examination, Otachi raised the issue of “spontaneous violence”, leading to the killing of Tutsis, after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana. “Should we not be thinking of how the people reacted to the plane crash rather than looking for an elaborate plan for genocide?” he asked. Des Forges responded that the events that followed the death of Habyarimana on April 6th 1994 do no support this idea of “spontaneous violence” but rather tend to indicate there was a pre-planned campaign for violence. "After the shooting down of the plane, did people pour out of their homes holding their machetes and attacking Tutsis? No! It was the disciplined military forces who went out and perpetrated killings. This was a patterned and organised killing Des Forges said. She cited Gitarama and Butare prefectures where killings did not take place until two weeks after the plane was shot down. " It took the killing of resistors, the removal of leaders opposed to the killings, pressure from the media, particularly RTLM (Radio Television Libre Des Mille Colines) and importation of killers from other areas to get civilians to participate in the killings," said Des Forges. Re-examinationThe witness completed her testimony on Tuesday afternoon . The final leg of Des Forges testimony on Tuesday morning was marked by several interruptionsand heated arguments from the defence during re-examination by the prosecutor Barbara Mulvaney of The United States. The defence objected the line of questioning by the prosecution saying that it was trying to introduce new evidence through the back door. They also opposed several moves by the prosecutor to produce documents, which she wanted to use in re-examining Des Forges. This trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, (presiding) Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. The witness named "ZF" for protection from public identity started his testimony in closed session late on Tuesday afternoon. PJ/CE/FH (ML-1126e)