Arusha, May 23, 2002 (FH) - The eleventh prosecution witness testifying in the trial of six individuals charged with genocide crimes in Butare, (south of Rwanda) on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that Arsene Shalom Ntahobali one of the accused took away young girls who were subsequently raped. The witness dubbed "TK" to protect her identity said that Ntahobali would come and take young girls from the prefecture who would then be raped.

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The accused at a point allegedly came with handicapped soldiers residing at the Groupe Scolaire (a school in Butare) some on crutches and they selected girls. "In fact that was the purpose of their evening walk to see if there were any decent girls," said TK. The 'Butare Trial' groups former Minister for Family Affairs and Gender Issues Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje. TK who gave her chief testimony on Monday, is on her fourth day on the witness stand. She is a genocide survivor from Gikongoro a province nearby to Butare. TK went to seek refuge in Butare soon after the death of president Juvénal Habyarimana. In her testimony on Monday, the witness said that Nyiramasuhuko and her son Ntahobali took Tutsi refugees from the provincial offices and drove them to unknown destinations where they were killed. According to the witness, the victims were transported in a vehicle driven by Ntahobali who was also accompanied by militiamen. TK said that these events took place around the end of May 1994 and the beginning of June the same year. Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali allegedly made three trips whereby they collected refugees from the provincial office. In cross-questioning, the defence has maintained that there are omissions, contradictions and inconsistencies between the written statements the witnesses had provided earlier and her testimony in court. Nyiramasuhuko's co-counsel Canadian Guy Poupart referred to four earlier statements the witness provided to investigators on December 17th, 1996, January 22nd, 1997, November 27th, 1997 and April 23rd, 1998. Poupart argued that many factors arising in TK's testimony in court did not feature in these earlier statements. He noted that the witness did not mention in any of the four statements that she had seen corpses at roadblocks that had been mounted, but she said it in court. The counsel also wanted to know why the witness had indicated in her statements that she had seen Nyiramasuhuko only once in mid-June 1994 and yet in court she said she saw her a number of times taking away refugees at the Butare provincial office. Ntahobali's defence enquired during cross-questioning, whether the witness had given details of the alleged rapes involving their client to the prosecution. The issue raised debate between Ntahobali's defence and the prosecution. The lawyer maintained that the issue (of the alleged rape incidents) arose from TK's testimony. TK said that a lot of horrible scenes happened at the provincial offices and that there were some scenes she had seen but kept to herself. This trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Two, composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchhill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). SW/FH (BT-0523e)