Arusha, November 28, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness on Friday told theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that as early as 1991,elements close to the Presidential Guards made an attempt to kill herhusband. The witness, Mrs Kavaruganda, was the wife of Joseph Kavaruganda, formerpresident of the Constitutional Court in Rwanda who was assassinated onApril 7, 1994 shortly after the death in a plane crash of former presidentJuvenal Habyarimana.

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Mrs Kavaruganda is the 32nd witness called by the prosecution and she wastestifying for the second day in the trial where four senior officers in theformer Rwandan army (ex-FAR) are on trial for their alleged roles in the1994 genocide. She informed the court that the attempt was made at their farm in Kanombe,Kigali, just 600 metres away from Habyarimana's official residence. “One evening, we escorted our daughter to the airport, she was going away tostudy”, said the witness. She continued that when they came back from theairport, they decided to pass the night at their official residence in thechic neighbourhood of Kiyovu, popular with senior government officials anddiplomats. “That night, uniformed soldiers came to our house in Kanombe, and thinkingwe had passed the night there, bombed our bedroom and the sitting room”, sheexplained, adding that their workers had seen the attackers who had cameaboard a jeep. She went on to explain that when they followed the tracks left by the jeepin the soil, it led right up to Habyarimana residence. “Experts in militaryaffairs told us that they used an anti-tank weapon and that nobody wouldhave survived the explosions”, she revealed, adding that nothing was done toapprehend the bombers. Previously close to the former president, the prosecution maintains thatJoseph Kavaruganda started falling out with Habyarimana over the latter'srefusal to sign the Arusha peace accords that would see his government sharepower with the rebel Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) now in power in Kigali. Joseph Kavaruganda was supposed to swear in the new government. Mrs Kavaruganda had testified the previous day that that shortly after theshooting down of President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane, soldiers begancordoning off the Kimihurura residential area in Kigali and startedevacuating ministers from the MRND (former ruling party) and arrestingopposition figures. She said that even though they were protected by armed members of theUNAMIR, (United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda), they were unable tosave her husband. She cited many occasions where her husband had been the victim of directsthreats and intimidations. She quoted a leader of Interahamwe in Kanombenamed Enock who had allegedly told her husband that his “grave had alreadybeen dug”. The witness continued that a certain Captain Simbikangwa had also came totheir gate on March 19, 1994 and had left a chilling message to the UNAMIRguards and Kavuruganda's workers: “Tell him that we can kill him anytime wewant to”. Less than three weeks later, Kavaruganda was dead. Mrs Kavaruganda identified one of her husband's abductors as Captain Kabera,Habyarimana's Aide-de-Camp, who came accompanied by commandos. Kavarugandawas never seen again. The witness told the tribunal that prior to 1991, the family had goodrelations with Habyarimana and that Kavaruganda had even been a member ofthe central committee of the MRND. Raphael Constant, the defence lawyer for one of the four accused in theso-called “military I” trial, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, has beguncross-examining the witness. Bagosora is the former director of cabinet inthe Rwandan ministry of defence and is considered by the prosecution as the“mastermind” of the genocide. He is jointly tried with the former head of military operations of the army,General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region,Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, formercommander of the Kanombe Para-military battalion based in Kigali. All four have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of genocide and crimesagainst humanity. The trial is being conducted by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed ofJudge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov fromRussia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. Raphael Constant continues cross-examining Mrs. Kavaruganda on Monday. KN/CE/FH (ML'1128e)