Arusha, February 13, 2003 (FH) - Two defence witnesses in the trial of former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education and genocide suspect Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that it was not possible for Kamuhanda to travel to Gikomero Commune on April 12th, 1994 because the routes to the commune from Kigali were war zones. The twentyseventh defence witness named RGS for protection of identity from the public and the twentyeightdefence witness Laurent Hitimana insisted that the routes leading to Gikomero were combat zones in that period.

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Both witnesses lived in Kigali prefecture in 1994. The prosecution accuses Kamuhanda of having led an attack on Tutsis who had sought refuge at Gikomero Parish on April 12th 1994. Led in his chief evidence by Kamuhanda's lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea, RGS who studied in the same secondary school and college as Kamuhanda told the chamber that for one to travel to Gikomero from Kigali, he had to be a member of the RPF since RPF troops had taken over the road. RGS described Kamuhanda as an upright person with good morals. " He was a person I knew and held in high esteem," RGS stated. Hitimana who testified after RGS said Kamuhanda was his friend and he could not have committed genocide. "I knew he could not participate in acts in violation of human rights. " Hitimana argued, adding "knowing the character and behavior of Kamuhanda, I was surprised that he could have participated in crimes of this kind. "Hitimana, who is currently a refugee in Kenya, stated that most people fled towards Gitarama after the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6th 1994 because there was no fighting in Gitarama. The witnesses also used maps to show the routes, which were not accessible due to fighting between RPF and government soldiers. Before he began his testimony, Hitimana informed the chamber that he did not wish to testify as a protected witness. The trial was adjourned to Monday. The trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho)CE/PJ/FH (KH0213e)