Arusha, November 24, 2003 (FH) – The defence counsel for the formerMinister of Commerce in the Rwandan interim government, Justin Mugenzi, onMonday questioned the impartiality of a prosecution witness before theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness, Eric Serge Rousseau, descends, on his mother's side, from aJewish family that was decimated during the Jewish holocaust,He arrived in Rwanda in July 1994, and being part of a commission created bythe Rwandan government, roved all over the country identifying massacresites.

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The commission published in 1996 their findings in a report that is knownwithin the tribunal as the “Rousseau report”. Mugenzi's lawyer, Ben Gumpert from the UK, suggested that the witnessinstead “rendered valuable service” to the Rwandan government for “biasedreport”. According to the lawyer, because the government was happy with the report,the witness now lives “a comfortable life in Kigali” courtesy of the Rwandangovernment. Rousseau is now a businessman in Kigali. “I have the same rights as any other Belgian living in Rwanda”, answered thewitness, pointing out that his commission worked in all independence. The defence counsel then demanded to know the ethnic composition of thecommission, to which the witness replied that there was no race in Rwanda,and that he had not been interested in knowing which “group” they came from. Justin Mugenzi is jointly accused with the former minister of health, DrCasimir Bizimungu, that of Public Service, Prosper Mugiraneza, and JeromeBicamumpaka, minister of Foreign affairs. Each one of them is charged with six counts of genocide and crimes againstHumanity in what is popularly known as “Government II trial”. They havepleaded not guilty. At the beginning of the trial, the prosecutor, Paul Ng'arua, had declaredthat the four accused were responsible for the death of 1,270. 000 people. In his opening statement, Paul Ng'arua had also stated that “their (theaccused's) visits were always followed by the massacres and disappearancesof Tutsis”. The prosecutor had the previous week presented video evidence of remains ofvictims of the genocide exhumed all over the country by Rousseau'scommission. The trial is taking part in trial Chamber Two of the ICTR composed of JudgesAsoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka (presiding), Khalida Rashid Khanfrom Pakistan and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga from Kenya. KN/ER/CE/FH (GVII'1124'e)