Arusha, November 18, 2003 (FH) – The first prosecution witness testimonyin the trial of four senior members of the Rwandan interim government,lasted nine days at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The trial dubbed “Government II”, groups together four former cabinetministers; Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Prosper Mugiraneza (Public service),Jerome Bicamumpaka (Foreign affairs) and Justin Mugenzi, former minister ofCommerce.

1 min 30Approximate reading time

They have each been charge with six counts that include genocideand crimes against humanity. The chief investigator in the office of the prosecutor, Maxwell Ephrem Nkolewho was called as the first witness for the prosecution, conducted sevenyears of investigations on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. According to a member of the prosecution team, Paul Ng'arua from Kenya, theintention of the testimony was to lay a foundation for one of the mostimportant cases ever to come before an international jurisdiction. During his last day of testifying, Nkole was cross examined by JeromeBicamumpaka's lawyer, Pierre Gaudreau from Canada. The other defenceattorneys had already done with cross-examination. Gaudreau in particular raised doubt on accusations levelled by theinvestigator against his client that he had been a founding member of theinfamous ”hate radio”, Radio télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM). “In all the documents you have produced in court, is there any to prove thathe was a founding member of RTLM?” the lawyer challenged. The prosecution used the investigator to present hundreds of documents ofincriminating evidence. “Mr. Bicamumpaka is well known as a founding member of RTLM”, replied Nkole. “Witness will come and testify to the fact”. Mugiraneza's defence on the other hand questioned the reliability of thenumber of victims cited by Mr. Nkole. This was caused by the witness's own accord that they had only exhumed a fewmass graves. Christian Gauthier from Canada suggested that the figures werenot official. “Witness gave us the numbers of family members who were killed, kidnapped ordisappeared”, Nkole explained adding that they had also referred to reportscompiled by experts. “It is just an estimate. We will never know the exactfigure” he concluded. Even though Maxwell Nkole's testimony is over, he will appear in court onWednesday. Casimir Bizimungu's counsel, Michelyne Chénard-Saint Laurent,filed a motion and she wants to argue it in his presence. 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 KenyaKN/ER/CE/FH (GVII'1118e)