Arusha, March 17, 2003 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the trial of six individuals accused of genocide in Butare Province (South Rwanda) on Monday told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that a catholic priest was threatened and chased away by Interahamwe militia when he attempted to feed Tutsi refugees. The twentysecond prosecution witness named "SD" for protection of her identity was among Tutsi refugees who had been transported from Butare prefecture office to Rango forest in June 1994 where they were guarded by the Interahamwe.

1 min 31Approximate reading time

She had fled Gikongoro prefecture and sought refuge in Butare with her seven children. During her stay at Rango, they were never given any food but when a white catholic priest attempted to give them food, he was stopped by the Interahamwe. She added that a catholic nun who was with the priest managed to prepare some porridge for young children. The six individuals in the Butare trial are former Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, and her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, former Butare prefects Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo and former mayors of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi and Muganza, Elie NdayambajeSD told the court that Kanyabashi had accompanied them to Rango and handed them over to three Interahamwe. "Kanyabashi told the Interahamwe: you are in charge of protecting these people if anyone of them dies you must inform us, "the witness stated. She recalled that while at Rango two large pits were dug and an Interahamwe called Fidel informed them that they would be killed and buried in the pits during the burial of president Juvenal Habyarimana. The refugees were however rescued by RPF troops on July 4th, 1994. The witness told the chamber that before she left for Rango, her six children were among other refugees taken to Nyaruhengeri in three government buses but she never saw them again. The children left with their paternal uncle. "Early the next morning, a child came and told us not to board the bus for Nyaruhengeri because all the people who left the previous day had been killed," SD said. SD was crossexamined entirely in closedsession by Ntahobali's cocounsel Normand Marquis of Canada. The trial continues on Tuesday with the crossexamination of SD by Nsabimana's lead counsel Josette Kadji of Cameroon. The trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (LesothoPJ/FH (BT'0317e)