Arusha, November 14, 2003 (FH) –The defence of former Rwandan health minister and genocide suspect Casimir Bizimungu on Friday questioned the credibility of the first prosecution witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bizimungu's lead counsel, Michelyne Chénard St-Laurent (Canada) told the chamber that she doubted evidence of the witness Maxwell Ephrem Nkole, the chief investigator in the office of the prosecutor.

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Bizimungu is in a joint trial with the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service. The counsel was cross-examining Nkole on his duties as a chief investigator. She disputed Nkole's evidence that he was the overall boss supervising all staff in the investigations section. “It is not true that Nkole is in charge of all investigators. This witness is so vague and I doubt his credibility,” St-Laurent said. Nkole who has been on the witness stand since the trial began on November 6th insisted that he is one the three commanders in the investigations unit. St-Laurent also questioned why a report on the genocide compiled by Nkole seven years later was exactly the same as the one prepared by a Belgian researcher, Eric Rousseau soon after the genocide. She told the witness that his report was just a duplicate of Rousseau's. Nkole responded that there are similarities in the two reports because both reports reached the same conclusions. The suspects are charged with six counts of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Convention. The trial continues on Monday with cross-examination of Nkole by Mugenzi's co-counsel, Ben Gumpert (UK). The trial is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding, assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan)PJ/CE/FH (GVII'1114e)