Arusha, June 18, 2003 (FH) - Trial Chamber One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Tuesday asked defence counsels not to put too much emphasis in crossexamining a prosecution witness in the trial of four former senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (exFAR). In giving that directive, the presiding judge of the chamber, Erik Møse of Norway, said that the witness, a BelgianItalian former journalist with Radio Télévision Libre des Milles collines (RTLM), Georges Ruggiu, had not shed any light on the accusations against the suspects.

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Ruggiu pleaded guilty to incitement to commit genocide and was condemned by the ICTR in June 2000 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Ruggiu had earlier also testified in the "/media trial". "It has come to our attention that the witness hardly mentioned the accused", remarked judge Møse, telling the defence to "take that into account in the crossexamination". The defence then briefly crossexamined the witness, dwelling mostly on contradictions in the witness's testimony with his past declarations, in view of putting his credibility into question. In the "Military I" trial, the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, is being jointly tried with the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lt. Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of the Paracommando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. All four have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit genocide and war crimes among others. During his testimony, Ruggiu revealed that when the genocide erupted on April 6, 1994, roadblocks were immediately set up, manned by either the military or by Interahamwe militia, but never the two combined. Kabiligi's FrancoTogolese lawyer, Jean Yaovi Degli while reading a passage in the witness's guilty plea, pointed out contradictions where Ruggiu said that roadblocks were jointly manned by both the army and militia. "That passage does not reflect my point of view", protested Ruggiu. Degli then challenged the witness who had claimed that he had seen Kabiligi on or around April 14, 1994, yet the latter was in Egypt. " I know I saw him between April 14 and 17, 1994, and I am not changing my stand", Ruggiu insisted, adding that he had seen him alight from a helicopter on a football field near the officers' mess in Kigali. "I never knew it was him, or that he was a general, but it was explained to me that it was the G3 (chief of military operations)", pointed out Ruggiu. The other defence counsels asked general questions related more to the witness's profession during the 1994 events, and on his unpublished book, "Within the Rwandan turmoil" (April 1995). Ruggiu acknowledged, while being cross examined by Degli, that his book contained some lies that were meant to defend him. Judge Erik Møse is assisted in Chamber One by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. Ruggiu ended his testimony and another person convicted for genocide, Omar Serushago, is expected to testify next. Serushago pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0618e)