Arusha, November 18, 2003 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was on Tuesday informed how 17 people, more than half of them women, were killed at Centre Christus, a Jesuit centre in the Kigali suburb of Remera on April 7,1994. The witness code-named “ET” to protect his identity, testified in the so-called “Military I” trial, which groups together four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) for their alleged roles in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

1 min 38Approximate reading time

ET is a Jesuit priest who was based at the Centre Christus at the time of the massacres. He said that among those killed was the most senior member of the Jesuit order in Rwanda and a prominent human rights activist, Father Chrysostome Mahame. ET continued that six soldiers had arrived at the centre early in the morning and assembled all Rwandan nationals and asked them for their identity cards. They then singled out 17 Tutsis and locked them in a small room and left, taking the keys with them. A short while later, a lorry full of soldiers arrived, this time, they ordered non-Tutsis as well as foreign members of the clergy to lock themselves in another room on the other side of the compound. ET went on to say that moments later, they heard the sounds of explosions and gunfire coming from where the Tutsis had been locked. “Since we had been ordered not to leave our room, it was hours later that we discovered all the 17 people dead in room number 28”, the witness said. When ET finished testifying, the tribunal came back to the issue of witness “DA's” testimony which the court had cut short on Monday as it deliberated on a motion by Bagosora's defence, claiming that DA was introducing “new evidence”. DA, a former member of the elite recoinaissance Battalion based in Kigali, had claimed Monday that he had intercepted cables from Bagosora which gave instructions to the battalion to “continue operations” against Tutsis and members of the opposition. Bagosora's co-counsel, Raphael Constant from Martinique, had argued that radio and cable communication records from the Rwandan ministry of defence were intact, and that the prosecution should be in a position to bring them as proof. The tribunal ruled in favour of the defence and said that there would be no cross examination of the witness before the prosecution presents the records of the alleged communications. The trial is being conducted in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. Witness DA continues testifying Wednesday. KN/CE/FH (ML'1118e)