Arusha, September 24, 2003 (FH) - Alison Des Forges, the American human rights activist and historian testified on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the trial of former Rwandan Minister of Finance, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi. Ndindabahizi 53, is charged with three counts including genocide and crimes against humanity (extermination and murder).

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He allegedly perpetrated massacres of civilians in his home prefecture of Kibuye, western Rwanda. Led in her chief evidence by prosecuting counsel Charles Phillips-Adeogun (Nigeria), she testified about a meeting held in Kibuye prefecture which was attended by Ndindabahizi and former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda. During the meeting of May 3, 1994 Ndindabahizi is alleged to have made inciting remarks by asking civilians who were members of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to join the civil defence programme in large numbers so as to fight the Tutsis. “Do not be ashamed as people in other political parties hold the same ideas,” Ndindabahizi allegedly said. Kibuye prefecture was a stronghold of the PSD according to Des Forges. She added that Ndindabahizi asked members of the population to point out any leader who might lead them astray by failing to participate in the elimination programme of the enemy (Tutsis). Referring to minutes of the meeting, Des Forges said the suspect also said that the RPF wanted power for itself. Des Forges explained that the government authorities “play acted” to justify their allegations against the Tutsis and their accomplices. She cited cases where they planted weapons on innocent Tutsi civilians then later accused them of collaborating with RPF troops. The expert witness also testified about the political history of Rwanda before the genocide. Ndindabahizi's defence counsel, Pascal Besnier of France, only asked Alison De Forges one question during cross-examination. He just wanted to know how many times the historian had referred to Ndindabahizi in her book entitled“Leave none to tell the story”. Des Forges replied that she could not be absolutely sure without referring to the book. She however said if the suspect is mentioned in the book it could only be in a minor role. Besnier also objected to the admission into evidence of the transcripts of the Kibuye meeting and an interview of the accused by UN investigators. He argued that the transcripts were not authentic while the interview by the UN investigators was done in violation of the suspect's rights. He also told the chamber that he had audio cassettes of the Kibuye meeting and he would produce them so as to cross-check and determine the authenticity of the transcript produced by the prosecution. Presiding judge Erik Mose of Norway ruled that the Chamber will decide later whether to admit the transcripts as exhibits. Des Forges has previously testified as an expert witness in four other trials at ICTR. The trial was adjourned to Monday due to lack of witnesses. Phillips informed the court that the last two witnesses are expected in Arusha on Friday. Besnier told the chamber that the defence would call its witnesses within three weeks once the prosecution complete presenting evidence. Ndindabahizi's trial is before Trial Chamber One composed of Judge Erik Mose (Norway) presiding, Judge Khalida Rachid (Pakistan) and Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda). PJ/CE/FH (NB'0924e)