Arusha, December 12, 2003 (FH) The defence in the trial of four former Rwandan cabinet ministers Friday began cross-examining the sixth prosecution witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The trial formally known as Government II groups together Casimir Bizimungu, former minister for health, the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service.

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They are each charged with six counts including genocide and crimes against humanity. The witness, code-named named GKBto conceal his identity, has been testifying since Monday. Bizimungus lead counsel, Michelyne Chénard Saint-Laurent (Canada) started cross examining GBK. The defence attorney drew attention to contradictions in two written statements of GKB. In one of the statements dated March 20, 2003 he told investigators he was a shopkeeper while in a second one of November 2002 he told them he was a farmer. GKB argued that there was no contradiction in his statements because he was both a farmer and a shopkeeper in 1994. The witness had stated in his chief examination that he was part of the Interahamwe who perpetrated massacres in Ruhengeri prefecture in 1994. He claimed he and other Interahamwe received orders from Bizimungu to massacre Tutsis. GKB had also testified earlier that Bizimungu and former Mukingo Mayor Juvenal Kajelijeli had visited him at his shop then gave him orders to go and dump two bodies of Tutsis who had been killed at Mukingo communal office. Saint-Laurent challenged the evidence and instead accused the witness of being a thief in Ruhengeri prefecture which led to his arrest ten times, allegations which GKB denied vehemently. He stated that he has been detained for the killings of Tutsis which he took part in. According to GKB, Kajelijeli made allegations of theft against him because he mentioned him (Kajelijeli) adversely on his role during the genocide. I was pushed into the killings by Kajelijeli, Bizimungu and Joseph Nzirorera (Secretary General of MRND and President of National Assembly). They were behind that extermination process and I worked with them to do the job,GKB said. The trial continues on Monday with the cross-examination of GKB. The trial is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan)PJ/KN/FH (GVII'1212e)