Arusha, January 29, 2003 (FH) - The eighteenth defence witness in the genocide trial of former Minister for Higher Education in Rwanda, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday that both Hutus and Tutsis were chasing each other during the AprilJuly massacres in 1994. The witness dubbed GPI to protect his identity said that during the first days of the genocide the Interahamwe, the militia group of the then MRND ruling party, pursued and killed Tutsis at Gikomero protestant parish on April 12th.

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He further explained that after the killings in Gikomero parish, the surviving Tutsis left and settled in Rutare, Byumba prefecture. According to him, the invading Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) came to their rescue and, on April, 19th, Gikomero parish was taken over by RPF rebels. Led by defence council Aicha Conde of Guinea, the Hutu witness said that when he went back to Gikomero on April 16th from Byumba prefecture, he hid from RPF soldiers for three months until July 19th, when the rebels also took over Kigali and promised peace to the population. "We hid because we did not know what would happen to us as the RPF soldiers were killing every one they met," said GPI. During cross examination by prosecution Attorney Babajide Ibukonulu of Nigeria, the witness denied several assertions including participating in the massacres at Gikomero parish, being led by Kamuhanda to commit the massacres and being imprisoned in Rwanda on genocide charges. "If I had participated in the massacres I would not have been released provisionally by the authorities," he defended himself. The witness got provisional release on February 2000 after a preliminary investigation by the Rwandan government. He however mentioned two people who were imprisoned with him whom he said confessed publicly that they participated in the killing at Gikomero parish and asked for forgiveness. The prisoners he said were Augustin Nyagatare and Didas Nkundibiza. Part of the evidence was given in camera for security reasons. Like other defence witnesses GPI strongly denied that Kamuhanda was in Gikomero on the fateful day and actively participated in the massacres. The witness has completed his testimony and the court is expected to hear another defence witness, dubbed EM, on Thursday. The case is before Trial Chamber Two composed of Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar and Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho. NI/CE/FH (KH0129e)