Arusha, February 26,2003 (FH) -The nineteenth prosecution witness in the so called "Butare Trial" made a surprise move on Wednesday asking the trial chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to allow her to question Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, one of the accused in the case. The Butare trial groups 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 of Muganza, Elie Ndayambaje.

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The six suspects are accused of perpetrating genocide in Butare province (South Rwanda). RE, who has been on the witness stand since Monday, told the court she wanted to inquire from Ntahobali if he drove a Toyota Pickup motor vehicle which took Tutsi refugees from the Butare Prefecture offices to a nearby forest called Rwabayanga, where they were executed. Ntahobali's cocounsel Normand Marquis of Canada who was crossquestioning RE had sought to know from her if she had seen Ntahobali driving the vehicle which transported the Tutsis. The witness said survivors who escaped from Rwabayanga forest had informed her that Ntahobali had driven the pickup. But when the counsel asked her why she had not mentioned that in her statement, she instead asked the chamber to give her an opportunity to ask Ntahobali the question. "My presence here is to give evidence in detail and I realize that I am a witness. Can you allow me to speak directly to the person who drove the vehicle"?The behaviour of the witness prompted the Presiding Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania to intervene and ask RE to answer questions without making any comments. "It is for the chamber to determine what is advanced before it. The witness should avoid evaluation or her own views," Sekule told the witness. After Judge Sekule had intervened, the witness said, "when I answer the questions being put to me by the defence counsel he tells me I have atendency of contradicting myself. I am here to give details, what am I supposed to do then?"The witness told the chamber in her chief evidence that Ntahobali, who was accompanied by his mother Nyiramasuhuko and an Interahamwe called Kazungu, went to the Butare Prefecture offices and took away young Tutsi men and girls. The Interahamwe executed the men and raped the girls in a forest. Asked by Marquis how Ntahobali was dressed when he went to the Prefecture offices with kazungu, she stated that Ntahobali was in military uniform and was armed. RE admitted that she had not recorded in her statement some of the evidence she adduced in court on Monday but insisted that she only gave ICTR investigators the statement in a summary form. "I told the investigators what I knew in very few words but I am here to state in detail what I saw," RE declared. Nsabimana's lead counsel Charles Tchakounte Patie of Cameroon started crossexamining the witness in the afternoon. The trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho)PJ/CE/FH (BT0226e)