Arusha, December 1, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness on Monday told theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that the former commanderof the battalion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, had ordered soldiers under hiscommand to “kill Tutsis systematically”. The witness code-named “BC”, was testifying in the trial of four seniorofficers in the former Rwandan Army (ex-FAR) who are accused of genocide andcrime against humanity.

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BC, a former member of the elite CRAP (Commandos de Recherches et d'Appui enProfondeur) unit, revealed that on the night of April 6, 1994, he had beendetached to guard the crash site of the plane carrying former presidentHabyarimana. He said that very early on the morning of April 7, they receivedinstructions to “ignore any sound of gunfire as it would be our soldiersdoing the shooting”. The witness continued that a few minutes later theyheard lots of gunfire coming from the direction of Nyarugunga suburbs. BC, the 33rd witness, went on that he had been informed by a colleague thatNtabakuze had held a meeting at a place called “Joli bois” that night andhad ordered them to systematically go from house to house and not to spareanyone, “old and the young alike”, stated the witness. “He said that all“Tutsi dogs” should be exterminated”. An estimated One million Tutsis and Hutu members of the opposition werekilled between April and July 1994 in massacres that were triggered by thedeath of former president Juvenal Habyarimana. The prosecution maintains that the genocide and massacres had been plannedlong before the president's death. One of the accused Colonel TheonesteBagosora, the former director of Cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence,is considered as the mastermind of the genocide. The so-called ”Military I” trial also features the former head of militaryoperations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former armycommander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. All four have pleaded not guilty. Witness BC also alleged that between 1992 and 1994, Major Ntabakuze had heldmeetings with his soldiers and publicly voiced his opposition to the Arushapeace talks. The talks were aimed at bringing to an end the war betweengovernment soldiers and the then rebel group, the Rwandese Patriotic Front(RPF) now in power in Kigali. “He said that he did not believe in the peace accords as he could not seehimself ‘sitting down and sharing a meal with those Tutsi dogs'”. Earlier on Monday, the wife of Joseph Kavaruganda, the former president ofthe Rwandan constitutional court who was abducted on April 7 and killed bymembers of the presidential guards, finished testifying. Mrs Kavaruganda surprised the tribunal, when she suddenly asked Bagosora'sFranco-Martinique lawyer, Raphael Constant, to make his client explain thecircumstances of her husband's death. “This is the only time I will ever getto get a straight answer. Could you please look Bagosora in the eye and askhim what fate befell my husband?”The presiding judge of Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, Judge Møse fromNorway, intervened to say that it was “very difficult for a defence counselto ask that kind of question”. Constant then added that Bagosora would giveevidence in his own defence at a later time. “Maybe it would be the righttime for the prosecutor to ask him that question”. Judge Møse is assisted in Chamber One by Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorovfrom Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. BC continues testifying on Tuesday. KN/CE/FH (ML'1201e)