Arusha,November 3, 2003 (FH) – The trial of four senior officers of the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) resumed on Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), with a prosecution witness alleging that “soldiers” took part in the massacres of refugees on April 13, 1994.

1 min 42Approximate reading time

He said that he was among 500 people who, fearing for their safety, had taken refuge at an Islamic centre known as “Khadafi mosque” in Nyamirambo. Soldiers, accompanied by armed militia, allegedly ordered that all “Inyenzis” (derogatory word for tutsis) leave the building. ”We are going to kill them all. Make sure no one escapes”, the soldiers dressed in black berets and camouflage uniforms are reported to have said. The witness continued that the attackers started killing tutsis who lived close to the mosque, and that he had seen the body of a certain Abdul Kheir “in a ditch” the day after the massacres. “I remained at the centre for two months living on water alone”, testified FW. He pointed out that the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who is one of the accused, had visited the centre in May 1994. The accused allegedly “came in a white pickup escorted by a lorry full of soldiers”. He is said to have told the soldiers to “guard the centre well and no civilians are to be permitted to loiter around”. The prosecution alleges that “within hours after the shooting down of the presidential plane, soldiers and militia started killing Tutsis and Hutu members of the opposition in Kigali and other regions of Rwanda. The indictment continues that senior officers had authority over all soldiers, including those not directly under their command. Considered as the mastermind of the genocide, Bagosora is jointly being tried together 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. 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 for the last few days to attend to family matters, but the trial continued under article 15 bis which states that in the absence of one judge, two judges can listen to a case for a period not exceeding five days. Judge Møse informed both parties that video recordings of the proceedings will be made available for judge Reddy “as it is done at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia” (ICTY). The trial continues on Tuesday with defence cross-examining the witnessKN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1103e)