Arusha, November 18th, 2003 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday turned down a motion filed by the defence counsel for Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, to discard evidence it deemed as being “new” . Bagosora is the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence and he is being jointly tried with three other former senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR).

2 min 2Approximate reading time

The motion was triggered by the revelations in court of a prosecution witness of alleged radio messages the accused sent to army units in Kigali. The witness, code-named “DA” to keep his identity secret, is a former member of the elite reconnaissance battalion based in Kigali, and had worked as an orderly officer and escort to the deputy commander of the battalion, Captain Innocent Sagahutu. DA said that one of his duties was to receive and file military communication cables. He informed the court that he had read the contents of a cable he said emanated from Bagosora, instructing the reconnaissance battalion to restrain anyone from going into Radio Rwanda. He further went on to say that another cable instructed the soldiers to reinforce roadblocks and work hand-in-hand with “Nyumba Kumi” (The lowest ranked local leader in charge of at least ten houses). DA continued that when the house of the former Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana had been under siege for a long time, Bagosora allergedly told the commander of the reconnaissance battalion over the radio “the operation to kill the Prime Minister had to be completed as soon as possible”. The prime Minister was subsequently assassinated at her residence on April 7, 1994 and the prosecutor holds Bagosora as the principle architect of her death as well as of the 1994 genocide that claimed over a million people. Bagosora is grouped together in the so-called “Military I” trial with the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, former commander of Kanombe Para-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. Bagosora's attorney, Raphael Constant, had opposed the testimony, arguing that it was”new evidence of a highly incriminating nature” which needed time to be countered. He and his team also resisted proposals by the chamber to cross-examine the witness on other issues not related to the “military communication” and only do that at a later date. “How do we know that the prosecution will not influence the witness before we cross-examine him”? Inquired Constant It is impossible to isolate him for all that time”. The tribunal ruled that the defence would be given two weeks to prepare its cross-examination, and in the meantime, the prosecution would call another witness while DA would be put on hold again for the second time in three days. The 29the prosecution witness dubbed “XXO” began testifying on Wednesday in closed session. The trial continues on Thursday. The trial is being conducted in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of judges Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. KN/CE/FH (ML'1118e)