Arusha, January 31, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwandan education minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda ordered the killing of Tutsi refugees at a church complex during the 1994 genocide, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. "Since Kamuhanda is here, our fate is sealed," protected witness "GEI" quoted ethnic Tutsi refugees as having said on Kamuhanda's arrival at the Catholic parish of Gikomero, Kigali Rural province, on April 12th, 1994.

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GEI said that on arrival at the parish, Kamuhanda had asked the church priest why the refugees were not being killed. "Killings of Tutsi refugees immediately began," said GEI. The witness said that the priest, one Nkuranga, had himself participated in the killings at his parish. GEI told the court that his own son, his three sisters and dozens of other Tutsis were killed in the attack. Kamuhanda was Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Rwandan interim government that presided over the 1994 genocide. He is charged with several counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Kamuhanda's defence counsel, Aicha Conde of Guinea Conakry, contested GEI's testimony, highlighting contradictions between his witness statement and testimony in court. GEI replied that the investigators who interviewed him could have made mistakes. GEI is the fifteenth prosecution witness. This case is before Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. GG/JC/FH (KH-0131e)