Arusha, December 5, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness who last testified on November 19, was recalled on Friday to be cross-examined by one of the defence counsels of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) who are on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness, code-named “DA” to keep his identity secret, is a former member of the elite reconnaissance battalion based in Kigali, and had worked as an orderly officer and escort to the deputy commander of the battalion, Captain Innocent Sagahutu.

1 min 39Approximate reading time

The defence counsel for one of the accused, the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, had filed a motion that sought to bar the testimony of the witness arguing that it was “new evidence”. The motion was quashed by the tribunal and had instead given the defence two weeks to prepare the cross-examination. DA had alleged that he had intercepted military cables from Bagosora, and that among the instructions he gave, was that soldiers should reinforce roadblocks and work hand-in-hand with “Nyumba Kumi” (The lowest ranked local leader in charge of at least ten houses). He had also stated that when the house of the former Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana had been under siege for a long time, Bagosora allegedly told the commander of the reconnaissance battalion over the radio that “the operation to kill the Prime Minister had to be completed as soon as possible”. Uwlingiyimana was killed on April 7, 1994 and the witness had earlier stated that he had witnessed the assault on the prime minister's house, and later saw her sexually mutilated body. On Friday, Skolnik's cross-examination was very general and mainly tried to test the credibility of the witness. The prosecution considers Colonel Theoneste Bagosora as the “master mind” of the genocide. He is being jointly tried with three other senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) in what is known as the “Military I” trial. . It includes the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, LieutenantColonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, the former commander of Kanombe Para-military battalion based in Kigali. All four have pleaded not guilty to charges of, among others, Genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Skolnick will continue cross-examining DA on Monday. The prosecution expects to call witness “BC” who cut short his testimony on Tuesday after suddenlyfalling ill. The trial is being conducted in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed ofJudge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov fromRussia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. KN/CE/FH (ML'1205e)