Arusha, December 10, 2003 (FH) – The sixth prosecution witness in the trial of four former cabinet ministers on Wednesday testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that one of the accused, Casimir Bizimungu, distributed machetes to Interahamwe in April 1994, at Ruhungeri prefecture. The witness identified as GKB to keep his identity secret was part of the Interahamwe (MRND youth wing) which received the weapons from Bizimungu at Nyarutovu commune in Ruhengeri prefecture.

1 min 35Approximate reading time

The accused was then the Health Minister in the interim government. The machetes, he said, were to be used in killing Tutsis in Nyarutovu commune. Bizimungu ferried the weapons, numbering fifty, in the boot of a saloon car, according to the witness. ”The machetes were meant to cut down the Tutsis of Nyarutovu,” GKB said. After the distribution, the Tutsis were hunted down and killed the whole day by the Interahamwe, he added. Bizimungu is jointly charged with the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza,former minister of Public Service. They each face six counts of charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. GKB went on that during the attacks, the Interahamwe would sing two war songs which Bizimungu had encouraged them to learn. One of the songs wasentitled “Let us exterminate them (Tutsis). “He (Bizimungu) liked that song and also used to sing it”, GKB stated. The title of the second song was “We shall fight the war and win it”. This song, according to GKB, meant that the Tutsis had to be defeated at any cost. The songs were usually sung after an attack. Before the genocide, the witness and other Interahamwe went for training at a place near Ruhengeri military barracks. He could not state the exact date but he said it was between 1992 and 1993. The training was conducted in a big house owned by Joseph Nzirorera (President of the National Assembly and Secretary General of MRND). While undergoing training, the group of seventy was frequently visited by Nzirorera, Juvenal Kajelijeli (former Mukingo mayor) and Bizimungu. During the night visits, Bizimungu urged them to obey instructions by Hutu leaders. He also urged them to ensure there were no flags of political parties in Ruhengeri prefecture other than those of the MRND. The cross examination of GKB by the defence begins on Thursday. 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/CE/FH (GVII'1210e)