Arusha, November 4, 2003 (FH) – The defence counsel of the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, on Tuesday cast doubt on the testimony of a prosecution witness testifying at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Considered by the prosecution to be the mastermind of the genocide, Bagosora is jointly being tried with three other senior officers of the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) in what is known as the “military I” trial.

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During his testimony, the 21stprosecution witness code-named “FW”» to keep his identity secret, had alleged that “soldiers” had on April 13, 1994, ordered the killing of Tutsis who had taken refuge at a mosque in Kigali. While cross-examining the witness, Bagosora's counsel, Raphael Constant from Martinique, had pointed out to the witness that he could not hear what the soldiers were saying since he had “been hiding under an old vehicle hidden in tall grass”. The witness retorted that “grass is not opaque”. As to other allegations that Bagosora had come to the mosque some time in May, Constant pointed out that the fact that the witness, who was still hiding, saw a vehicle did not mean that it was his client in that car. The witness answered that it was Bagosora he had seen in the car and that he “had known him long before the 1994 events. Bagosora is jointly accused with with the former chief of military operations of the Rwandan army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, the former commander of Gisenyi military region, Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsegiyumva, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major alloys Ntabakuze. All four have pleaded not guilty to war crimes and crimes against humanity. After FW's testimony, the court heard another protected witness code-named DAS. The witness talked of many attacks conducted by ex-FAR soldiers in and around Kigali, but did not directly refer to any of the accusedThe prosecution maintains that the senior officers had authority over lower ranked soldiers, even if the latter were not directly under their command. 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. DAS will continue testifying on Wednesday. Trial Chamber One is holding two different trials daily. The trial of the former Rwandan minister of finance in the interim government sits in the morning, while “military I” is heard in the afternoon. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1104e)