Arusha, June 20, 2003 (FH) - The defence counsel for the former military commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, on Thursday put the credibility of Omar Serushago to doubt, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Serushago, 42, the fourth prosecution witness in the trial of four senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (exFAR), has been testifying since Wednesday.

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He pleaded guilty of genocide in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 in prison by the ICTR. His testimony dwelt mainly with the role Nsengiyumva played in the 1994 genocideSerushago's testimony came under attack by Nsengiyumva's Kenyan lawyer, Ottachi Bw'Omanwa. He questioned the credibility of the witness, pointing out discrepancies between his earlier statement to ICTR investigators and his testimony before the tribunal. The lawyer gave an example where the witness gave two different dates that his client had allegedly called upon Interahamwe's in Gisenyi to go give a hand in Bisesero and Nyange (Kibuye, western Rwanda) where "Tutsis were putting up a resistance". Serushago's statement to investigators he made around 199798 said that the incident happened in April, 1994, yet his court testimony put it in June. Another point of contradiction pointed out by the lawyer was the vehicle that transported the militia (who were allegedly given arms and ammunition by Nsengiyumva) to Bisesero. The witness had told the court that it was a "Toyota Starlet" that he had even personally used, yet in his statement he had said it was a bus. The witness argued that "typing errors could have slipped through here and there", adding that the investigators who interviewed him were not fluent in French. Short memoryOn the incident of the 20 people kidnapped from a bishop's house April 20, 1994 and killed on the orders of the accused, Serushago had problems explaining to court Nsengiyumva's exact role. "He gave the signal but he is not the one who gave the order. It was already planned", explained the witness. In addition to that, the witness said that the Interahamwe who had taken part in the operation had been congratulated by Nsengiyumva. Again the witness had difficulties remembering the venue where it happened. "I think it was either at Meridien hotel or Palm Beach hotel", the witness said, asking the tribunal to bear with his short memory of times and places. At one time Serushago asked the lawyer not to ask him "questions that were of no use to the chamber". The presiding judge of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, Erik Mose of Norway, intervened a number of times, explaining to the witness the importance of the questions to the defence. Judge Mose is assisted in chamber one by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. Serushago finished his testimony in the afternoon. The days proceedings ended with a status conference that was held in closed session. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0620e)