Arusha, June 19, 2003 (FH) - A prosecution witness on Wednesday asserted before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva allegedly ordered the killings of Tutsis on the night of April 6, 1994. Omar Serushago, the fourth prosecution witness and one of the twelve people convicted by the ICTR, was testifying in the "military I" trial, in whichNsengiyumva and three other former senior military officers of the former Rwandan army are being tried.

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Serushago, a former militia leader who pleaded guilty to genocide and was sentenced in 1999 to 15 years in prison, made the allegations during his examination by one of the prosecutors in the case, Segun Jegede from Nigeria. He said that on the night immediately after Habyarimana's assassination, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, who was then the military commander of Gisenyi region, ordered his soldiers to begin massacres in that region. "A soldier from his camp told me that they had begun killing operations on the night of April 6, 1994 on the orders of Nsengiyumva", revealed Serushago who also hails from that region and was a member of the Interahamwe militia, considered to have spearheaded the1994 genocide. The witness said that within hours of the order being given, the streets of Gisenyi were strewn with dead bodies "riddled with bullets or hacked by machetes". He continued that on the afternoon of April 7, Nsengiyumva with his escorts passed by his house and instructed him to join other Interahamwe in the killings. Anatole Nsengiyumva is jointly accused with Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, a former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former commander of the Paracommando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of, among others, conspiracy to commit genocide and war crimes. The prosecution maintains that between April and June 1994, Nsengiyumva chaired meetings with hundreds of militias in Gisenyi where "he incited and encouraged participants to continue with the massacres of the Tutsi civilian population". The "red Commune"Serushago specified that from April 7 to 13, 1994, he was in charge of the roadblock at the "corniche" border crossing on the shores of Lake Kivu. According to him, the roadblock was meant to sort out Tutsis and members of the Hutu opposition. He revealed that among the Interahamwe present with him at the checkpoint were Bagosora's son Vicky and members of Habyarimana's family. He explained that those arrested at the roadblock were taken to "Commune Rouge" (the red commune), a euphemism invented by Nsengiyumva to indicate the killing ground in the town. Serushago notably singled out an incident on April 20 where Nsengiyumva entrusted him with a mission to go and arrest 20 people who had taken refuge with a bishop and kill them. Nineteen Tutsis and one Hutu woman were taken and shot at commune rouge. "I personally killed four of them. That is the reason I am in prison right now", the witness confessed, adding that acts of rape also took place at commune rouge. Nsengiyumva's defence counsel began his crossexamination of the witness on Wednesday afternoon. On of his Kenyan lawyers, Otachi Bw'Omanwa, dwelt mainly on the activities of Interahamwe, political and military figures before and during the genocide. The "MILITARY I" is being held in trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse of Norway, assisted by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. Serushago's crossexamination continues on Thursday. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0619e)