Arusha, August 26, 2002 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the case of former Minister for Information in the interim government, Eliezer Niyitegeka on Monday told the Tribunal that some children were taken to a group of men including the accused and assaulted. The Tribunal's Trial Chamber One supported the remarks made by the accused's defence that the witness's testimony had contradictions.

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The witness known only as "GGM" to protect his identity told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that on June 12th, 1994, the children including one child belonging to a certain Gasarasi was beaten by attackers in the presence of the accused. In his chief testimony the witness said that the children were killed and that Niyitegeka participated in their attack. However, during cross-questioning he said that Niyitekega took a club and hit the back of Gasarasi's child. The attackers then started chopping up the rest of the children with machetes "like pieces of meat," the witness said. Niyitegeka faces six charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres committed in Bisesero (Kibuye province, west of Rwanda) and elsewhere in the country between April and July 1994. He allegedly ordered massacres of civilians and personally took part in attacks against Tutsi. Niyitegeka has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The defence counsel has underlined that your statements are taken over by imagination because you have contradictions on three occasions, the presiding judge South African Navanethem Pillay said to the witnesses. The Chamber asked that he explain the contradictions. The witness said he did not remember the dates because those were difficult times but that he recalled it was during the month of June. Since the beginning of the trial, the defence strategy has been to divulge the contradictions, especially those contained in witness statements as compared to their oral testimony in court. The defence maintained that the witness's statements were "pure inventions. "Irish counsel Sylvia Geraghty and Feargal Kavanag represent Niyitegeka. Last week, Kavanag accused the Chamber of siding with the prosecution theory, in reaction to questions posed by the judges. This trial, which started on June 17th, is before ICTR's Trial Chamber One composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. The hearing continues with the evidence of another protected witness, known only as "DAF". GA/SW/FH (NI-0826e)