Arusha, September 12, 2002 (FH) - On her second week before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as an expert witness, American historian Alison Des Forges is finally making some headway in her testimony that was beleaguered at the start by defence objections and lengthy debates. Des Forges is testifying in the trial of four former military officers grouped in the case referred to as the 'Military Trial'.

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They are Théoneste Bagosora, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Gratien Kabiligi. The four have pleaded not guilty to charges on genocide and crimes against humanity. It took three days of intense debate when the case resumed on September 2nd to have Des Forges admitted as an expert witness. The defence objected, stating she was not qualified in certain elements. The admission of the expert and other technical issues necessitated a closed session at one point and numerous interventions by the Chamber to direct both parties. On Wednesday, Des Forges was able to proceed, with only brief and few interruptions. She spoke of events that preceded the 1994 genocide, including how one of the accused, Nsengiyumva then in the office of the Chief of Intelligence underlined that the "enemy" was not only outside, and that intruders of a cellule were always located by members of a cellule. "It buttresses my conclusion of the way in which military authorities and civilians begun to work together," the witness said. She said Nsengiyumva wrote letters on strategies of ensuring security against the "enemy". In one of this letters dated October 11th, 1990, Nsengiyumva's aim was to solicit a "Media Campaign" that would result in favourable international opinion. Des Forges said for Nsengiyumva, there were negative media reports on Rwanda due to sustained campaigns by the "Inkontanyi" (derogative term for Tutsis/RPF) and their sympathisers who had penetrated the media to ensure that coverage would be in their favour. He wanted this situation rectified, she said. Des Forges told the court that four days prior to Nsengiyumva's letter, an attack in Kibiliri, Gisenyi area left 300 Tutsis, killed and their bodies thrown into the Nyabarongo River. She added that following international outcry, the gendarmerie contained situation "without firing a single shot. "However, other killings were experienced later, without any interventions and the perpetrators were not apprehended or punished. Media CampaignNsengiyumva, said the witness, suggested that positive media coverage could save the country's image. He noted that Burundi had succeeded in doing this when the Tutsi military killed Hutus in the north (Ntega and Maranga) in 1988, and the government managed to turn around international opinion by sending missions abroad to explain their side of events. Nsengiyumva, the court heard, suggested that the newly appointed Director of Rwandan Information Office (ORINFOR) Professor Ferdinand Nahimana be brought to work. The court heard that Ntabakuze also shared Nsengiyumva's opinion on Nahimana. Nsengiyumva said he appreciated Ntabakuze as a committed officer who understood "the cause he was defending". Nahimana was included in the list individuals proposed for a "sensitization" mission abroad, Des Forges told the court. (He is an accused in "Media Trial", before the Tribunal). Nsengiyumva, she added, suggested that international sympathy particularly from America and France could be sought by claiming that Uganda and Libya (not the RPF) had attacked Rwanda. The accused also warned of Hutus from Ruhengeri who posed a threat of rallying other discontented parties against former President Juvénal Habyarimana and his supporters from Gisenyi. Two people named as potential threats, were (ex-President) Pasteur Bizimungu and Colonel Alexis Kanyarengwe a Hutu who joined the RPF in 1990s. The hearing continues on Wednesday morning 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. SW/FH (ML-0912e)