Arusha, January 29, 2002 (FH) - An expert defence witness in the trial of former Bicumbi mayor Laurent Semanza on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the 1994 genocide was not planned and that the pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) carried out killings that were attributed to Hutu militia groups. Also on Tuesday, the court ruled that one of the two remaining expert witnesses would not testify because the defence had contravened an earlier ruling.

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Semanza's defence tried to explain in vain that they were not at fault and instead blamed the "operations of the Tribunal". The court said the defence had not presented the report of scheduled forensic expert Dominique Lecomte by the expected deadline, despite being granted more time. Testifying for the second day, former Rwandan minister Professor Pascal Ndengejeho said the scale of the 1994 killings meant they could not have been planned, but that people responded spontaneously to political unrest. Ndengejeho claimed that violence was looming, due to unrest stirred by political parties. "If elections had taken place as planned, there would have been violence," he said. He questioned the definition of genocide. "If a Tutsi kills a Tutsi, is it genocide? If a Hutu kills a Hutu, is it genocide?" he asked. The witness said the killings that took place in Rwanda in 1994 should be considered in a historical context dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. "What happened in 1994, is a continuation of what happened in 1960," Ndengejeho said. Ndengejeho said that the RPF participated in killings, but that it was "a well kept secret". "Many people of the RPF were involved in the massacres," he said. He also told the court that some of the activities by the Rwandan Patriotic Front in 1994 were "blamed on the Interahamwe (Hutu militia). "He told the court that the RPF connived to use the media by directing journalists to specific areas during the events, where they "made up so much information". He said some of the corpses they claimed were Tutsis included Hutu victims. The witness said that the death of former president Juvènal Habyarimana was the direct cause of the magnitude of the massacres. He said he was "certain" that if Habyarimana were still alive, the situation would not have been the same. Ndengejeho was Rwanda's Minister for Information from 1992 to 1993. He also held various administrative and political positions in Rwanda. 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. Ndengejeho's testimony continues before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, 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-0129e)