Arusha, November 17, 2003 (FH) – The chief investigator in the office of the prosecutor, Maxwell Ephrem Nkole, on Monday informed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he could not give an estimate of the number of Tutsis killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He is the first witness to be called by the prosecution in the trial of four former members of the Rwandan interim government.

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The so-called “government II” trial groups together former cabinet ministers; Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Prosper Mugiraneza (Public service), Jerome Bicamumpaka (Foreign affairs) and Justin Mugenzi, former minister of Commerce. They are each charged with six counts that include genocide and crimes against humanity. Maxwell Nkole revealed that he had conducted seven investigations into the events of 1994 in which, the prosecutor maintains, the accused played active roles. Justin Mugenzi's British lawyer Ben Gumbert, had wanted to know whether in the course of his investigations, the investigator had not come across an approximate figure of Tutsi victims. “We have the total number of victims, without distinguishing between Tutsis or moderate Hutus”, replied Nkole, adding that it was up to demographers establish the ethnic origins of each individual victim. A member of the prosecution team, John Ng'arua from Kenya, had revealed during his opening statement that the accused were responsible for the death of 1,270,000 people. “In the course of your investigations, did you come across information that showed that some of the bodies discovered in 1994 belonged to Hutus killed by the RPF?” inquired Mugenzi ‘s counsel. “It could be possible, the prosecutor has announced that investigations are going on”, replied the witness. Gumpert then attempted to puncture a hole in the persecution's opinion that “there was planning” involved in preparation and execution of the genocide. Nkole pointed out that there were enough elements in his report “that pointed to planning, incitement and execution of the genocide”. Through the witness, the prosecutor presented hundreds of incriminating evidence, including statements made by the accused before and during the genocide. Mugenzi's defence was the second to cross-examine the witness following that of Casimir Bizimungu. Maxwell Nkole still has to field questions from both Jerome Bicamumpaka and Prosper Mugiraneza's attorneys. The trial is taking place in trial Chamber Two of the ICTR composed of judges Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka (presiding), Khalida Rashid Khan from Pakistan and Lee Gacuiga Muthoga from Kenya. The trial continues on Tuesday. KN/ER/CE/FH (GVII'1117'e)