Arusha, November 18, 2003 (FH) – The twentieth defence witness in thetrial of genocide suspect and former Mayor of Rusumo (Kibungo prefecture,Eastern Rwanda), Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, on Tuesday told the InternationalCriminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the suspect and other communalofficials did not incite killings of Tutsis in 1994. “Nothing of the sort happened in our area”, the witness said in response toa question by Gacumbitsi's co-counsel Ann Mbattang of Cameroon during chiefexamination.

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The witness named XW15 to keep her identity secret testified that Gacumbitsiand other officials of the Rusumo commune never distributed weapons duringthe 1994 genocide as alleged by the prosecution. According to the prosecutor, the accused organized the campaign againstTutsi civilians in his commune, including holding meetings and distributingarms to Interahamwe to kill Tutsis. XW15 added that rapes of Tutsi women and girls did not occur in her localarea whose name she only mentioned in closed session. Gacumbitsi is accused of circulating about Rusumo in a vehicle announcing bymegaphone that Tutsi women should be raped and sexually degraded. The witness stated that she fled her rural home in April 14th 1994 becausehouses were burnt down “by bandits”. The attackers, she said were arrestedby Gacumbitsi. ”There were some people who had problems with Gacumbitsi andthey wanted to take possession of farm,”At the beginning of the sessions, the chamber dismissed a motion by thedefence to reverse a decision by the chamber disqualifying a former RwandanMinister for Information, Pascal Ndengejeho, from testifying as an expertwitness. The Chamber on November 11th ruled that Ndegejeho can only testifyas a factual witness. The trial was adjourned to Wednesday afternoon when Ndengejeho's testimonywill be heard. Gacumbitsi will testify as the last defence witness afterNdengejeho. The trial is being heard by Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed ofJudge Andrésia Vas from Senegal (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorovfrom Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. PJ/CE/FH (GA'1118e)