Arusha, December 10, 2003 (FH)- Trial Chamber Three of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Wednesday expunged allegations of rape from a prosecution witnesss testimony saying that it was new evidence. The tribunal was hearing the case against four former senior government officials who are on trial or their alleged parts they played in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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The witness code-named GIO told the court that she was raped during 1994 genocide. "They kicked me, I fell down, they tore my underwear and those people raped me even though I was pregnant" she claimed. In the government trial, the four co-accused are the president of the former ruling party, the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, his vice president Edouard Karemera, the Secretary general of MRND, Joseph Nzirorera as well as Andre Rwamakuba. André Rwamakuba has not been present since the trial begun on 27th of November, 2003, he has been boycotting the trial, and is only represented by his two counsels. Rwamakuba maintains that his case is " manipulated " by the prosecutor. Defense counsel for Rwamakuba, David Hooper of United Kingdom immediately protested arguing that the witness was providing entirely new evidence which by the nature of questions asked by the prosecutor, showed that the prosecution had prior knowledge of the evidence and was tricking the court into accepting the evidence into record. The chamber ruled that the new evidence would be ignored. "We reassure counsel Hooper that the information will be expunged from the record and the judges will not be polluted by the testimony," the presiding judge of the chamber, Judge Andrésia Vaz said. GIO was mainly cross-examined by Rwamakuba's defense counsel on the testimony she had given earlier. "Was there just soldiers with the man you identified as Rwamakuba or anyone else?" asked Hooper, to which GIO answered that they were "students from the University and soldiers wearing helmets". Another witness, identified as HF, claimed that she saw Rwamakuba distributing hatchets to Interahamwe to kill people at the hospital and that even the former minister of primary and secondary education was armed. "I saw Rwamakuba with a hatchet in his hand. Another time I saw him hitting somebody it" alleged the witness. "When Rwamakuba arrived at the hospital he and those who accompanied him, including the Interahamwe asked people for their identity cards and confiscated Tutsis ID's", said HF. Both witnesses testified in their Rwamakuba's group took Tutsi patients, forced them into vehicles, and took them to be killed and buried in pits at the Institute for Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) below the maternity ward of the hospital. Karemera rejects counsel. Earlier, Edourd Karemera, the former vice-president of the former ruling party, the MRND, raised an objection in court against his defense counsel Mr Martel. He said, that he was "not competent to represent me". Mr. Martel arrived late for the hearing on Wednesday, a situation which was noted by the chamber as it had to wait for him before pursuing the trial. Martel is Didier Skornicki's co-counsel. The latter had replaced Emmanuel Leclerc of Belgium who withdrew from the case in 1999, shortly before Karemera's initial appearance. "The events in Rwanda in 1994 are referred to by some as genocide and by others as massacres by both sides. So far as I am concerned, the only correct term is genocide. Karemera holds a different opinion" Leclerc had explained in a letter to the tribunal. Edouard Karemera and Andre Rwamakuba are jointly charged with the former president of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, and the secretary general of the party, and speaker of the transitional national assembly, Joseph Nzirorera. Judge Vaz, is assisted in Chamber Three by two ad litem (not permanent) judges, Flavia Lattanzi from Italy and Florence Rita Arrey from Cameroon. The trial continues on Thursday. KN/SV/FH (GOVI'1210e)