Arusha, November 20th, 2003 (FH) – A former bodyguard of AgatheUwilingiyimana, the former Rwandan prime minister, on Thursday testified atthe the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness code-named “XXO” to protect his identity, was a former gendarmewho was deployed to protect the prime minister.

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He is testifying in the casewhere four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) are on trialfor their roles in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The prosecution maintains that one of the accused, Colonel TheonesteBagosora, a former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, played aleading role in the death of Uwilingiyimana. “XXO” told the court that a short while after the shooting down of a planecarrying president Habyarimana, he got a phone call from his supervisortelling him of violence that had erupted in the ministers' residentialneighbourhood. “He told me to evacuate the Prime minister to a safer place before the roadswere blocked because the presidential guards had started killing leaders ofthe opposition”, declared the witness. “The Prime Minister refused to move, saying that we should wait for a whileas she was waiting for communication from the UNAMIR (United NationsAssistance Mission to Rwanda) commander”. The commander of the UNAMIR wasCanadian General Romeo Dallaire. The witness went on that they further urged the Prime minister to leave theresidence but that she remained adamant. “What we feared happened” continuedthe witness. When we peeped outside, there was an armoured vehicle of theelite reconnaissance battalion with its gun pointing at the house”. The house was then completely surrounded with nowhere to pass. “At around 4o'clock in the morning, 8 Belgian members of UNAMIR came to escort the PrimeMinister to Radio Rwanda so that she could address the nation and call forcalm”, he said. At the time, XXO told the court, soldiers surrounding the residence hadstarted shooting at the house. “We managed to create an opening in the walland hide the Prime Minister in the house next door”, he explained. In the end they were overpowered and the last image he has of the BelgianBlue Helmets is one of them raising their hands in surrender. The Belgianswere later executed at Kigali military campSoldiers of the Presidential Guards and the Reconnaissance Battalioncaptured Agathe Uwilingiyimana on the morning of April 7, 1994 and sexuallymutilated her before killing her and her husband. The prosecution maintains that immediately after the death of Habyarimana,Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, de-facto took military and political control ofthe country and that he was the architect of the genocide. Bagosora is jointly tried in the so-called “Military I” trial with theformer head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi,the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel AnatoleNsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, former commander of KanombePara-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. 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. Cross-examination of the witness by the defence began just before the trialadjourned, and it is expected to continue on Friday. KN/CE/FH (ML'1120e)