Arusha, November 17, 2003 (FH) – The defence counsel for the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, on Monday filed a motion before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that sought to bar what it termed “new evidence” being heard in court. Bagosora's co-counsel, Paul Skolnik, was reacting to the evidence of the 27th prosecution witness code-named DA to keep his identity secret.

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The witness, a former member of the reconnaissance battalion based in Kigali, had worked as an orderly officer and escort to someone high up in the hierarchy of the battalion. 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). Skolnik immediately shot up and objected, saying that the prosecutor was introducing new evidence that was not included in the witness statement. “I don't have a crystal ball and it is impossible to address the matter at a short notice”, he said. The chamber then ruled that it was putting a hold on the witness until it reaches a decision on whether to accept the evidence or not, and instructed the prosecutor to introduce another witness. Earlier DA had testified that immediately after the shooting down of president Habyarimana's plane, the commander of the reconnaissance battalion had ordered the assembled soldiers to arrest the Prime minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana so that she could explain the president's assassination. DA continued that he had witnessed soldiers shooting at the residence of the Prime minister. Uwilingiyimana was killed by soldiers with her husband and two other people on April 7, 2003. The prosecution considers Colonel Theoneste Bagosora as the “mastermind” of the genocide. He is being jointly tried with three other senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) in what is known as the “Military I” trial. It includes 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, the 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. 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. The chamber will resume on Tuesday as it begins hearing the next prosecution witness code-named “ET”. KN/CE/FH (ML'1117e)