Arusha, November 13, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness testifying in the trial of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (FAR), on Wednesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that civilians were taken to the presidential guard camp and killed in April 1994. The witness, code-named “XAO” to protect his identity, was a soldier in the elite Para-military battalion based in Kanombe (Kigali) in 1994.

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The former commander of the battalion, Major,Aloys Ntabakuze, is one of the accused in this trial. The witness named two of those killed in the camp as being Joseph Kavaruganda, former president of the Supreme Court, who was allegedly “killed with a pistol”, and the former minister of information, Faustin Rucogoza. The witness explained that after the shooting down of president Habyarimana's plane, Ntabakuze immediately took measures to reinforce the presidential guards with soldiers under his command of which the witness was part. The cross-examination of XAO took less than 10 minutes. When he mentioned a certain Murwanashyaka, Ntabakuze's lawyer, André Tremblay from Canada simply pointed out that during XAO's statement, he had mentioned that Murwanashyaka had never been a member of the Ntabakuze's battalion. Another protected witness dubbed “WB”, who testified after XAO, declared on his part that on April 14, Ntabakuze had that refugees be taken to an international educational institute in Kigali, where they were falsely made to believe they were safe. The next day, soldiers accompanied by Interahamwe militia, attacked the institute and basing on identity cards, sorted out Tutsis to be killed. Before the events of 1994, the ethnic group was mentioned on identity cards in Rwanda. Was the accused identified by using a photograph?WB will be cross examined on Thursday. Tremblay opposed the identification of his client by using a photograph, calling the procedure “extremely suspicious”. He added with a light touch of sarcasm that it “should be put in the Guiness Book of Records”. Apart from the “abnormal” nature of the procedure, Tremblay said that his client's photo, which was in the middle of many others, had been marked with a cross to make it easy to identify. According to the prosecutor, the witness had insisted on seeing the photos before testifying, to which the defence retorted that the identification “had been done in the prosecutor's office”. The judges are deliberating on that matter. Ntabakuze is jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. 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. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1113e)