Arusha, October 3, 2003(FH) - The prosecution in the trial of genocide suspect and former Rwandan Minister of Finance Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, rested its case on Monday, September 30th, after presenting fifteen witnesses at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This trial is so far one of the fastest in ICTR.

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It began on September 1, 2003 and the fifteen witnesses were heard within a period of twelve trial days. Ndindabahizi, 53 is charged with three counts including genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination and murder). He allegedly perpetrated massacres of civilians in his native prefecture of Kibuye, western Rwanda. The indictment says that between April and June 1994 the suspect moved around Gitesi, Gishyita and Mabanza communes publicly inciting Hutus to kill their Tutsi neighbours. He also monitored, visited or supervised several roadblocks to facilitate distribution of weapons within the prefecture. Furthermore he personally distributed weapons, led convoys of attackers and even attacks in some massacre sites. In his opening statement, the prosecutor Charles Adeogun-Phillips (Nigeria) also argued that the accused was clearly a person of considerable influence in his local community, both as president of the PSD (Social Democratic Party) in Kibuye and as minister. Due to this, the Interahamwe, gendarmes and other members of the population followed his orders. A prosecution witness, dubbed CGY, indeed described Ndindabahizi as an influential leader of the PSD, while GKH, also a member of the PSD, confirmed that the suspect was a member of the same party. He told the chamber that Ndindabahizi attended the party's meetings in Kibuye where the PSD was well represented. Distribution of weaponsSeveral witnesses testified that they saw the suspect travelling often in a convoy of two vehicles in Kibuye prefecture between April and May 1994. His personal vehicle ferried him while a pick-up accompanied him carrying gendarmes and Interahamwe, and transporting weapons. These witnesses were mainly Tutsi survivors who had fled their homes in Gitesi commune after being chased out by Hutus and sought refuge within Gitwa Hill and its surroundings. Some of them said they saw the suspect arrive at the foot of Gitwa Hill and address a crowd of Hutu civilians and Interahamwe before arming them with machetes. Two witnesses, CGN and CGY both from Gitesi Commune, explained they saw Ndindabahizi distributing machetes to civilians and Interhamwe between April 20th and 24th 1994. The former minister allegedly asked the attackers, after arming them, to make good use of the weapons. CGK, a Tutsi woman, aged 16 during the genocide, said that in May 1994, Ndindabahizi visited a roadblock in a place called Faye, Kayenzi secteur, in a convoy of two vehicles, one of which was a pick-up carrying machetes. After addressing a crowd of fifteen Hutus, the accused directed them to take the machetes and use them to kill the Tutsis. The same evidence was adduced by the tenth prosecution witness who said he saw the suspect distribute firearms at a roadblock in Gitaka. CGC, the last prosecution witness also confirmed that he witnessed the suspect at a roadblock in Gaseke, Gitesi commune, distributing machetes to some twenty Hutus on May 20th 1994. Killing ordersMost of the witnesses who saw the suspect distributing the weapons also said they heard him give orders to civilians and Interahamwe to exterminate Tutsis. CGN recalled that, after distributing weapons at the foot of Gitwa Hill, the suspect told the crowd that “there are Tutsis on the hill and they have proved to be difficult. You have to kill them, and when you do so, you will be compensated”. CGV stated that, after Ndindabahizi arrived at the foot of the hill accompanied by gendarmes and Interahamwe, he personally launched an attack on Tutsi refugees by throwing a grenade at them. Then the soldiers and Interahamwe followed suit, some throwing grenades, others shooting. CGB, on his part, declared he heard Ndindabahizi urge Hutus at the roadblock in Gitaka not to spare any Tutsi in the end of May. The suspect, who was going to Kibuye, allegedly said, “When I come back [to the roadblock], I do not want to hear of any Tutsi alive in this area. ”As a result of this remark, CGB said that two Tutsis, a teacher, Tatiana Mukantabana also known as Nyiramaritete and a farmer, Cyprien Karegeya, were killed at the roadblock. The last prosecution witness stated that, on May 20th 1994, he heard Ndindabahizi at a roadblock in Gaseke demanding to know why Tutsis were not being killed there. Ndindabahizi allegedly asked those manning the roadblock “why they were not killing Tutsis and were allowing them to pass. ”Soon after the suspect left the roadblock, CGC added, a Tutsi called Nturusu was killed there. Tutsi women not to be sparedAccording to the prosecution evidence, the suspect also incited the attackers not to spare Tutsi women married to Hutu men as he distributed weapons. “As for Tutsi women married to Hutus, you have to kill them otherwise they will poison you,” one protected witness allegedly heard Ndindabahizi say to the attackers at the roadblock in Gitaka, towards the end of May 1994. Ndindabahizi allegedly made similar remarks at Kibirizi market (Mabanza commune) where he called on the people to kill Tutsi women in that locality. “He said that in Kigali, the Tutsis have already been killed including Tutsi women married to Hutu men,” witness CGL stated. As to CGK, he declared that the accused, while visiting a roadblock in Kayenzi secteur, asked fifteen Hutus to take machetes and kill Tutsi women married to Hutus including children whose mothers were Tutsis. Expert witnessAmerican historian Alison Des Forges testified as an expert witness in this trial, mainly about a rally held at Kibuye prefecture on May 3rd 1994. This rally was attended by former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, Ndindabahizi and several senior government officials. According to Des Forges, Ndindabahizi and Kambanda made inciting statements to the population during this meeting. In his speech, the accused called on the members of the PSD in Kibuye to join the civil defence programme in large numbers. He further claimed that the RPF had the intention to resume war. Ndindabahizi also urged members of the population to point out any leader who led members of the population astray by refusing to support the elimination programme. Cross-examinationWhile cross-examining the prosecution witnesses, Ndindabahizi's defence team, made up of Pascal Besnier and Guillaume Marçais from France often pointed out contradictions between the oral testimony before the court and the written statements of several witnesses. For instance, CGV, in his written statement, had stated that Ndindabahizi was watching as attackers fought Tutsis at Gitwa Hill whereas he told the chamber the accused participated in the attack. When asked by the lead counsel, Besnier, about these differences, CGV retorted that the ICTR investigators had misunderstood him when obtaining his statement in 2001. During CGB's cross-examination, Besnier pointed out that the witness had stated to the investigators that he shad seen Tatiana Mukantabana and Cyprien Karegeya being killed at the roadblock in Gitaka. But in his oral evidence he said that he only saw Karegeya being killed and the body of Mukantabana being brought to the roadblock. The defence also challenged the testimonies of the witnesses who alleged to have seen the suspect at the massacre sites, due to their inability to remember the exact dates. During cross-examination, it emerged that three quarters of the witnesses could not remember the exact dates they had seen the suspect at the crime scenes within Kibuye Prefecture. They could only recall that it was between May and April 1994. Ndindabahizi's defence indicated to the court that they would present their twenty-seven witnesses within three weeks. The defence is expected to start its case on October 27th, when the trial resumes. Ndindabahizi's trial is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of judge Erik Mose (Norway) presiding, judge Khalida Rachid Khan (Pakistan) and judge Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda). PJ/CE/FH (NB'1003e)