Arusha October 25th, 2002(FH) - The 15th prosecution witness in the so-called Butare trial completed her testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday. The trial was adjourned in June 27 due to lack of prosecution witnesses but resumed on Monday, October 14th, at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda with the evidence of the witness named "SU" for protection of identity.

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Her testimony and that of the UN investigator Shukri Ghandhi have been the longest in this case. "SU" testified for seven days while Gandhi, the first prosecution witness testified for one month. The trial which consists of the largest number of genocide suspects at the ICTR moved on swiftly on the first day during the chief examination of the witness by the Prosecutor George Townsend but then went on at a snail's pace and sometimes took strange turns as soon as the defence started cross-questioning witness “SU”. The suspects in the case are former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. Nyiramasuhuko aged 56, is the first woman to be indicted with rape and genocide in an international court. A very difficult beginningThe witness dubbed "SU" for protection of identity gave a hard time to both the chamber and the defence in the manner in which she answered questions from the defence. The presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II hearing the case, William Hussein Sekule (Tanzania) had to intervene several times and ask the witness during every session to answer the questions clearly and in a precise manner. As soon as the second day of the witness’s cross examination by Nyiramasuhuko's lead counsel Nicole Bergevin, Judge Sekule noted that the trial could only move fast if the witness responded to the questions without giving long irrelevant answers. Judge Sekule asked her "to listen to the questions keenly and answer them shortly and clearly. "The witness did not adhere to this directive by Judge Sekule but instead threatened to change her mind. " I should be asked questions politely because I can change. Do not harass and confuse me," she told the court. The lead counsel for Nyiramasuhuko, Nicole Bergevin whom the witness gave a very hard time, had asked judge Sekule to direct the witness to respond to her questions. On the third day of her testimony, the witness fell sick, forcing the chamber to adjourn the case in the morning up to 2. 30 p. m. The witness, who is a Tutsi and a genocide survivor from Butare, was agitated and emotional during her first two days of her testimony . Though she could remember the events during the 1994 genocide vividly, she frequently gave very long answers to the questions and even went ahead to ask her own questions to the defense counsel. When, for instance, Nsabimana's co- counsel Charles Tchakounte Patie asked her whether the former prefect had given the Tutsis gendarmes to guard themat the prefecture she agreed that they were given security after they complained to Nsabimana. But she told Tchakoute to ask his client why he had not provided them security in the first place. She said, "please ask him (Nsabimana) now why he did not take people's security who were like his children seriously until the issue was raised?" The defence counsel explained to her that it was Nsabimana's turn to ask her questions through him. All the four defence counsels who cross-questioned her complained to the chamber and asked Judge Sekule to caution her when she answered questions rudely. When Nicole Bergevin asked her the number of statements she had made to the investigators, she answered, "I am not a cashier or a treasurer. " This counsel (Bergevin) cross-examined her from October 15th to 21st . Another counsel whom the witness gave a difficult time was Nteziryayo's counsel Richard Perras. The Witness initially refused to answer his questions because she did not know his client and she maintained that she had not mentioned him in her evidence. " I do not know Nteziryayo and I don't see how he (Perras) will ask me questions”. Once again Judge Sekule had to intervene and ask the witness to answer questions from the defence counsel. Though the witness complied, she answered some questions rudely. When counsel Perras asked her if she had seen the Bishop of Butare visit the Prefecture Offices, she retorted, " do not ask me questions on religion". It was only when Judge Sekule put the question to her again and she answered that she did not see the Bishop at the offices. Very often, the defence counsels were forced to ask questions twice or three times so as to get an answer from the witness who was testifying in kinyarwanda. As she was being re-examined by prosecutor Townsend, it was evident that the chamber was getting impatient with the manner the witness was conducting herself. As soon as the prosecutor started re-examination Judge Sekule reminded the witness that she should be " very brief in her answers". He also asked the prosecutor to "speed up so that the sitting could come to an end in a precise manner. "She finally completed testimony with the re-examination of Townsend on Wednesday at mid-day and Judge Sekule observed that the testimony had taken too long as he thanked her. Weighty evidenceDuring her chief testimony, she testified mainly against former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. She accused her of ordering the Interahamwe to rape and kill Tutsi women and girls. The witness who went to the Butare prefecture offices in May 27 1994 to seek refuge and protection said Nyiramasuhuko instructed the Interahamwe to rape Tutsi women and girls because they had previously refused to marry them. She claimed that the Minister supervised as the Interahamwe selected the Tutsis to be taken away. Those who were taken away in a truck were beaten, raped and killed, according to her. She added that Nyiramasuhuko accompanied them with Intarahamwe militiamen armed with machetes, grenades and nail-studded clubs and that those who refused to board the vehicle were cut with machetes on the throats. Nyiramashuko, the chamber heard, visited the prefecture offices several times and held meetings there with other government officials. Witness “SU” said that Nyiramashuko, who was in military uniform and wearing gloves, spoke to the Interahamwe in a loud and agitated voice. She also accused former Butare prefect Nsabimana of denying the Tutsis who had sought refuge at the Prefecture Offices access to water and the toilets within the office. " The prefect did nothing to respect and defend the rights of the people", she said. According to her, the Tutsis had gone to the prefecture for protection but Nsabimana whom they viewed as a parent did not take action. Instead, he regarded them as "dirt", she said. According to her, the Tutsis were living in miserable conditions at the prefecture and were not allowed to spend the night inside the offices. They were prohibited from sheltering at the veranda when it was raining while the Interahamwe would spend the nights there. The witness testified that the Interahamwe took away the food, which the Rwandese Red Cross Organisation had distributed to the victims. She recounted how the victims were forced to collect food remnants from a public refuse-dumping site, which they would cook and eat from the cooking pots or plastic bags. The witness ended her testimony on Thursday, October 24 at noon with re-examination by prosecutor Townsend. The trial began on June 13 2001 and so far 15 prosecution witnesses have completed their testimony with 72 remaining to testify. This trial is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Mantazima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madgascar. The trial will resume on Monday. PJ/CE/FH (BT-1023e)