Arusha, March 4, 2003 (FH) - Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was on Tuesday several times compelled to direct the twentieth prosecution witness in the socalled Butare trial to answer questions put to her during crossexamination. The witness, a Tutsi woman dubbed SS to protect her identity, was by being crossexamined by Nicole Bergevin of Canada, lead counsel for the accused Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister of Family and Women Affairs.

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SS's testimony mainly concerned Nyiramasuhuko, her son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, former Prefect of Butare, Sylvain Nsabimana and former Mayor of Ngoma commune, Joseph Kanyabashi. The four are coaccused with Alphonse Nteziryayo, former prefect of Butare who took over from Nsabimana, and Elie Ndayambaje, former Mayor of Muganza commune. The witness became uneasy when council Bergevin asked her to confirm whether a written statement she made to ICTR investigators on June 27, 1996 was read back to her in the language (Kinyarwanda) she understood and whether it reflected what she told them. SS could not answer the question and instead told the chamber that while she was interrogated by the ICTR investigators, there were several other persons she did not know. "Tell the witness to relax and answer the questions directly," Tanzanian presiding Judge William Sekule told the Interpreter. " I feel a bit uneasy," the witness told the chamber adding, " I would like to go and wash my head. " A 20minute adjournment was granted. When the trial resumed, SS responded positively to the questions. However Judge Sekule had to keep on reminding her to answer questions as asked by the defense. She confirmed that she saw the accused Nyiramasuhuko three times while at the prefecture office with other refugees but did not want to commit herself as to the number of Hutu refugees who were with her. When council Bergevin asked the witness who arrived first at the prefecture office between her and other refugees from Bugosera and Gitarama, SS once more did not answer the question. Instead she asked the chamber to tell the counsel not to ask her such a question. The presiding judge had to intervene again to ask the witness if she was able at least to give an estimated time or date. SS said she could not give any, as she was then suffering from diarrhea. Counsel Bergevin, the first defence council to crossexamine SS, was expected to finish her crossquestioning on Tuesday. The afternoon session was totally conducted in closed session. The trial continues on Wednesday before Trial Chamber II led by Tanzanian Judge William Sekule, assisted by judges Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. NI/CE/FH (BU'0304e)