Arusha, October 16, 2003 (FH) – Three defence witnesses told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday that genocide suspect and former mayor of Rusumo commune, Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, arrested “wrongdoers” in April 1994. Gacumbitsi, 56, is charged with five counts, which include genocide, or in the alternative complicity in genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity in relation with massacres of Tutsis perpetrated in several locations in his commune during the 1994 genocide.

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He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The three witnesses, identified as YCW, YEW and UPT are all refugees in Tanzania. They indicated that the former mayor arrested “wrongdoers” who had killed people and looted property in two places in his commune. Only YCW admitted he had witnessed the arrest. The two other acknowledged they were told about it. According to YCW, the former mayor arrested « hooligans » on April 12th, because they had committed murders and had looted in Gatore. Gacumbitsi arrested them during a meeting he convened in connection with the atmosphere of insecurity that prevailed then. « Stand united », Gacumbitsi advised, before leaving Gatore, the witness said. Although he refused to call these « hooligans » Interahamwe, YCW admitted that their victims were Tutsis. The witness added that, towards the end of the afternoon, “ they were released by the sub-prefect”. He said, “I asked the bourgmestre why he released the hooligans and he replied that, ‘It was not I (Gacumbitsi) who released them it is the sub-prefect, I am a subordinate to him' explained the witness. The indictment states that Gacumbitsi failed to maintain public order, or deliberately undermined public order in districts over which he exercised administrative authority in agreement with the MRND policies knowing that the policies intended the destruction in whole or in part of the Tutsis. He also ordered administrative authorities under him to carry out the officialpolicy of massacring civilian Tutsis. YCW went on to say that the genocide suspect was threatened and insulted by demonstrating hooligans who accused him of being an accomplice of the Tutsis. He quoted the hooligans saying. “Let's wait for our leaders to come and we will teach the bourgmestre a lesson”New witnesses next weekThe representative of the Witness Support section, Ms Sylvie Becky informed the trial chamber at the beginning of the afternoon that five defence witnesses including an expert witness will testify next week. She mentioned them as NG2, NG4, RDR, MQ1 and MQ4. Mr. Karegeysa objected to the expert witness appearing next week. He said there would not be sufficient time to go through the testimonies of five witnesses and an expert witness. He also objected the attendance of witness M3Q who was not listed by the defense. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three, which is presided over by Senegalese judge and ICTR vice-president Andresia Vaz, assisted by judges Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji and Serguei Aleckseivich Egorov from Russia. It will resume on MondaySV/CE/FH (GA1610e)