Arusha,November 5, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness on Wednesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, congratulated soldiers and armed militia for the massacres of Tutsis in Kigali in April 1994. The witness code-named “DAS” to protect his identity, is the 22nd witness to be called by the prosecution.

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He said that at that time, he was a night watchman in Kiyovu, a chic residential area for top civil servants, army officers as well as diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda. According to DAS, a day after the assassination of President Habyarimana on the night of April 6, 1994, soldiers and Interahamwe militia erected roadblocks all over Kigali and started killing Tutsis. On April 14, allegedly Bagosora, paid a visit to a roadblock where, basing on identity cards, tutsis were selected (the ethnic group was mentioned on the ID at the time). DAS added that Bagosora was accompanied by one of his co-accused, the former commander of Gisenyi military region, Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsegiyumva. “He congratulated the soldiers and militia for a job well done and having been active. We understood that he was praising them for having killed Tutsis because that is the only thing those people were doing”. DAS revealed that all watchmen in the area had assembled at the roadblock that day. The witness revealed that during the ten minutes or so the officers remained at the roadblocks, some victims were killed in their presence. “About 50 bodies were lying on the ground. I was one of those who were packing the bodies in a lorry”, he said. On that occasion, Nsengiyumva is said to have pointed out that the situation in Gisenyi was “good”. He then allegedly instructed the militia to make sure there were no refugees in a nearby Presbyterian church. The witness added that between April and mid-May, women were raped before being killed by Interahamwe at roadblocks in Kiyovu. Bagosora and Nsengiyumva are jointly with the former chief of military operations of the Rwandan army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major alloys Ntabakuze. The prosecution maintains that conspired to kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus, whose massacres between April and July 1994 is proof of its execution. The accused have pleaded not guilty. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. Judge Reddy has been absent since the trial resumed Monday for family reasons, and the regulation states that in the absence of one judge, two judges can listen to a case for a period not exceeding five days. DAS's examination-in-chief is expected to end on Thursday. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1105e)