Arusha, June 23, 2003 (FH) - A witness in the so called "Military I" trial on Monday told Trial Chamber One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he saw the former military commander in Gisenyi (northwestern Rwanda), Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, handing out weapons to Interahamwe militia. The witness codenamed "OAF" to protect his identity was testifying in the joint trial of four former senior Rwandan army officers who are accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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The witness said that on April 7, 1994, he saw militia unloading green wooden cases in the presence of Nsengiyumva and Hassan Gitoki, a leader of the Interahamwe. The witness continued that he was later informed by members of the militia that the boxes contained guns and grenades, adding that the incident happened near the Gisenyi central market close to his house. Nsengiyumva is being tried jointly with the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of military operations in the Rwandan army Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, Major Aloys Ntabakuze who used to be the commander of the Paracommando battalion based at Kanombe (Kigali). "OAF" also said that he was present when Nsengiyumva gave orders to a militia member known only by the name of Thomas, to take an unnamed Tutsiman to "commune rouge", a killing ground in Gisenyi. The witness added that the man was never seen again. Nsengiyumva's defence counsel, Kennedy Ogetto, called attention to a number of contradictions in the witness's testimony. Most of these were, according to the counsel, on times and places alleged incidents happened. The witness explained that he had made statements four years ago, and that mistakes were bound to happen. The trial continues on Tuesday when the tribunal will hear another protected witness, "OAB". The witness will appear in the afternoon, after the Prosecutor, Barbara Mulvaney, requested to meet with the next witness before testifying. The tribunal will also be sitting in a closed session on Tuesday morning to hear some procedural motions raised by the defence. Trial Chamber One of the ICTR is presided over by Judge Erik Møse of Norway. He is assisted by Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. The "Military I" trial is considered as one of the most important trial ever brought before the tribunal considering the suspects involved and the crimes they are alleged to have committed. KN/CE/FH (ML'0623e)