Arusha, October 2, 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, ordered the killing of Tutsi refugees in April 1994. The 19th prosecution witness code-named “AR” to keep his identity secret, had been testifying since Tuesday in the trial where Bagosora, considered to be the mastermind of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, is jointly charged with three other senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR).

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AR narrated how thousands of refugees, including himself, had been forcefully marched by soldiers from a place called SONATUBES, past ETO (Ecole Technique Officielle) and taken to Nyanza Hill, all in the urban commune of Kicukiro, Kigali. “After we had passed ETO, I saw Bagosora aboard a military jeep of the Mercedes type”, said the witness during his direct examination by counsel for the prosecution, Drew White. Quoting an unnamed radio station, the witness said that Bagosora had walked out of negotiations with rebels (held in 1993 in Arusha, Tanzania) saying that he was going back to Rwandan to prepare the apocalypse. The prosecution has also included the same allegations in the indictment, saying that Bagosora and his co-accused were against the Arusha accords. The agreement was supposed to lead to the formation of a broad-based government that would have included both the armed and the unarmed opposition. The accords later became null and void with the resumption of hostilities that followed the death of president Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. “When I saw Bagosora by the roadside, I said to myself; ‘the apocalypse he promised is just around the corner'. Indeed, hardly had we arrived in Nyanza that the soldiers started shooting on us”, alleged AR who estimated the number of refugees to around 3000. According to the witness, the soldiers were acting under Bagosora's orders. In support of AR's claims, Drew White exhibited a video footage of corpses piled in the middle of a road to illustrate the massacres of Nyanza. “The soldiers opened fire until they made sure that no one was still alive”, asserted AR, adding that “the shooting went on until 8. 30 in the evening”. The witness allegedly remained on the site for two days, “wounded and buried under piles of bodies”. According to him, a few people were saved by soldiers of the RPF (former rebel movement of the Tutsi dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front) which was at war with the government army. Questioning the videoAll members of the defence teams questioned the authenticity of the video produced by the prosecution, though they never challenged the fact that massacres had taken place in Nyanza at the time described by the witness. “We do not know who filmed the video or where it was filmed”, remarked Ottachi Bw'Omanwa, the Kenyan counsel for the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lt. Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, one of the accused. Raphael Constant, Bagosora's lawyer from Martinique, went in the same logic, pointing out that the date marked on the bottom of the screen of when the film was taken, was different from when the witness alleged the massacres had taken place. The film was marked April 22, 1994. The witness himself denied ever seeing anyone filming on the site of the massacres during the two days he remained hidden among the dead bodies. Constant then went on to suggest that his client was not in Nyanza on the date of the said massacres. “I never saw him, I do not know where he went after the refugees had passed by him”, replied AR. Bagosora and Nsengiyumva are jointly being tried with the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and Major Ntabakuze. The so-called “Military I” trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. The prosecutor announced that the last witness for the current session, code-named “DP”, will appear on Thursday. The defence expressed its fears that they might not have enough time to cross-examine him before the case adjourns on Friday. They asked that the witness be put off until the next session slated to begin in November. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1002ee)