Arusha, September 19, 2003 (FH) – The defence for the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, on Friday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to recall a witness. Raphael Constant from Martinique, said that the witness in question, code-named XXC for security reasons, be recalled at a later date because as he had introduced new facts.

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Constant was cross-examining the 17th prosecution in the trial where Bagosora and three other senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR). The defence pointed out a number of accusations levelled against Bagosora that occurred between 1990 and 1994, qualifying them as “new facts”. The chamber had nonetheless allowed the evidence stating that it was their prerogative to judge its relevance. Among the new evidence was that Bagosora had distributed weapons to militia in April 1994, tortured a journalist in 1992, and that in 1990, he had caused the arrests of hundreds of people suspected of colluding with rebels. Raphael Constant's fears were at last laid to rest when the prosecutor announced that he would not base his case on the accusation of torture and would not make any allusions to the allegations that Bagosora had been a member of a clique within the president's inner circle whose aim was to track down political opponents. As to the issue of distributing arms to militia, Constant pointed out that the witness was referring to “unverified information”, as he had not been an eye witness to the acts. XXC had said that he had been “told of the incident by friends who had been given some of those arms”On many occasions, Constant pointed out contradictions between the witness's statement to investigators and his testimony in court, be it dates or alleged crimes that had been committed. The witness responded by saying that the statement was unimportant and that what mattered was his testimony. “I realise that I have not exhausted all the questions because of all these new facts raised by the witness”, Constant informed the chamber. “I reserve my right to recall this witness again some time later”. Considered as the “mastermind of the genocide”, Bagosora, is jointly being tried with the former head of military operations of the army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. They are accused of Genocide, Crimes against humanity, and war crimes. All four have pleaded not guilty. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway and is assisted by Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. The chamber reconvenes Monday with the auditioning of another protected witness code-named “XBY”. KN/GA/FH (ML'0919e)