Arusha, November 15, 2002 (FH) - The trial of four former Rwandan military officers is scheduled to resume on Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, human rights activist Alison Des Forges. The trial was suspended on 26th September so that the Trial Chamber could hear the 'Cyangugu Trial.

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'Des Forges, an expert witness started her testimony two days after the 'Military Trial' resumed on September 2nd. This trial groups Théoneste Bagosora who was former advisor at the Rwandan defence ministry (chef de cabinet), and three others, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Major Aloys Ntabakuze and General Gratien Kabiligi. The trial was adjourned when the defence for Kabiligi had opened his crossquestioning of Des Forges. Defence objections to her admission as an expert witness took a whole week when the case resumed in September 2nd. They argued that she was not qualified to testify as an expert witness but the chamber overruled the objections and allowed her to give evidence. The prosecution has made a request to the Chamber for Des Forges who is Senior Advisor for the African Division of the international human rights association Human Rights Watch to finish her testimony by November 22 when the trial resumes . The judges have to rule on that motion. The expert was crossexamined by Bagasora's defence for a week. After six days of cross questioning, the President of the Chamber Judge George Llyod Williams asked Bagosora's counsel, Raphael Constant to move fast in his crossquestioning. The prosecution plans to call about 250 witnesses. Observers maintain that the 'Military Trial' is one of the most important trials currently before the Tribunal. The accused are viewed as the key figures responsible for the genocide that claimed close to one million lives between April and July 1994. The prosecution considers Bagosora as the "mastermind" of the genocide. It further adds that at the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana Bagosora assumed "de facto" control of the political and military affairs in Rwanda. The prosecution's argument is that the accused organised and adhered to a plan to eliminate Tutsis from the early 90s. The defence on the other hand, argues that Rwanda's problems date back to the period of the monarchy and the revolution of 1959. The accused had pleaded not guilty. The trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, (presiding) Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. PJ/FH (ML1115e)