Arusha, April 29, 2002 (FH) - A group of genocide survivors trained and encouraged people to falsely testify against "people they were not happy with", a defence witness in the genocide trial of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerard Ntakirutimana told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. "A friend of mine was beaten because he refused to testify against Gerard Ntakirutimana", said the protected witness only identified as "Witness number nine".

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At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78, was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church mission at Mugonero in Kibuye. He is jointly charged with his son Gerard Ntakirutimana, 45. Gerard was a medical doctor at the infirmary, which lay in the same complex. The prosecutor, among other accusations, alleges that the two planned and presided over killings of about 6,000 Tutsi refugees in the Mugonero complex during the genocide. An estimated 1,000,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in the 1994 genocide according to an official census by the government of Rwanda. Witness number nine said he had fled Rwanda in 1995 after learning of the incidence involving his friend. "A soldier advised us to flee", he said. The witness further testified that he had attended public meetings in which local government authorities called for people to testify against others. "Lists of people to be accused were drawn up in the meetings", he said. The meetings, said the witness, took place in Kibuye shortly after the end of the genocide in 1994 and 1995. The witness also said that some officials from Kigali, Rwanda's capital city came to Kibuye to hold secret meetings with certain genocide survivors. "After drinking beer, participants in these meetings threatened us and told us about their plans", said the witness. Among the attendants of the alleged meetings, the witness mentioned former IBUKA (genocide survivors' organization) executive, Josue Kayijaho, and his brother and founder member of IBUKA, Assiel Kabera. Kabera was then prefect of Kibuye region. On one occasion, said witness number nine, a drunk man had told him that "if you don't give me money, I will do to you what I'm going to do to the old man". The witness said he understood "the old man" to be pastor Ntakirutimana. Defence counsels of the Ntakirutimanas said at the opening of the trial that there was a witness syndicate run by IBUKA aimed at falsely accusing ethnic Hutus of genocide crimes. The case is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Mose of Norway (presiding), Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. GG/FH(NT-0429e)