Arusha, February 5, 2002 (FH) - The killings in Rwanda in 1994 were not genocide, a defence expert witness in the trial of former Bicumbi mayor Laurent Semanza told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday. At the end of his testimony, Professor Pascal Ndengejeho, a former Rwandan Minister, told the court that the bloody 1994 events in Rwanda were "massacres", not genocide.

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"There were very serious massacres, and people should be punished, but there was no genocide," Ndengejeho said. Ndengejeho was responding to questions from the judges. The presiding judge, Yakov Ostrosvky of Russia, asked him to clarify his earlier testimony on the definition of genocide. The witness said the "general definition" of genocide did not apply to the 1994 events in Rwanda. "I don't have an answer for Rwanda. Of course if you talk to me about Germany with the Nazis, that is a different matter," Ndengejeho said. Ndengejeho said that the 1994 killings in Rwanda were not planned or premeditated, and therefore could not be classified as genocide. According to Ndengejeho, even the Tutsis "committed massacres, without the intention of eliminating any race". In reply to a separate question by judge Lloyd Williams of St Kitts and Nevis, who sought the witness's definition of "Interahamwe" (pro-Hutu militia), Ndengejeho said that up to April 6th, 1994, Interahamwe were the youth wing of the presidential party MRND. He added that after April 1994, the term Interahamwe acquired a "different meaning". The witness claimed that the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) killed those wearing uniform of the Interahamwe. Prosecution witnesses had testified of Interahamwe killing Tutsis. During his testimony on Monday, Ndengejeho had claimed that about two million Hutus were killed in and outside Rwanda after July 1994. Those killed out of Rwanda, he said, included refugees in camps in ex-Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo. He had also testified that if the term "genocide" were used, it should apply to "both camps", the Hutus killed by Tutsis from October 1st 1990 up to 1994, and the Tutsis killed during the 1994 events. Ndengejeho started his testimony in Semanza's trial on January 28th. Another expert witness, Antoine Nyetera is set to start testifying on Thursday. Nyetera is a Tutsi of royal descent. Semanza, a former mayor of Bicumbi (Kigali province in central Rwanda), is charged with 14 counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape and persecution in Bicumbi and Gikoro communes. He has pleaded not guilty. The case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia (presiding), Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/FH (SE-0205e)