Arusha, September 18, 2003 (FH) – Trial Chamber One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Thursday allowed the prosecution to present evidence related to events that happened in 1990 in Rwanda. The Chamber is hearing the joint trial of four senior army officers of the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR).

2 min 2Approximate reading time

All defence counsels had objected to any evidence related to 1990 arguing that it would not be in line with the indictment and the statutes of the ICTR. The tribunal is only mandated to try crimes committed between January 1 and December 31, 1994. The prosecution on the other hand insisted that there was “a link of causality” between the events of 1990 and those of 1994. In rendering the decision, the judges stated that it was the chamber's prerogative to judge the relevance of any evidence and therefore allowed the 17th prosecution witness code-named XXC continue with his testimony. When he resumed, XXC narrated a string of events in which one of the accused, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, was implicated. Bagosora was the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence and is considered as “the mastermind” of the genocide. Without specifying the exact date, the witness talked of an incident that happened in “early October 1990” whereby Col. Bagosora ordered the arrest of over 300 people suspected of conspiring with rebels and had them locked up in a football stadium on Kigali. On that occasion, the accused allegedly knocked out a certain Lando with the butt of a pistol. “Those who had been arrested told their fellow detainees to start praying as nobody would get out alive”, claimed the witness adding that he was one of the arrested. The witness secretly left the stadium three days later. “I was saved by a soldier who hails from the same region as I”, he said. Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, is charged together 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. All four have pleaded not guilty to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Will part of the evidence be dismissed?Apart from the incidents of 1990, the witness also alleged that the accused tortured a journalist in 1992 using “an electric chair” and that he distributed arms to soldiers and militia in April 1994. Long before the genocide, Bagosora was allegedly a member of the “Death Squadron”, a very influential group whose mission the witness said, was to hunt down members of the opposition. Before beginning his cross examination, one of Bagosora's defence counsel, Raphael Constant from Martinique, insisted that that all these elements in XXC's testimony be thrown out as they were all “new developments in the case”. “This is not mere additional information. These are completely new elements. It is as if we had before us a different witness”, complained Constant. The judges will deliberate on the motion, and asked the defence to proceed with cross-examination of the witness. It was entirely held in closed session in the afternoon. Chamber One is made up of judge Erik Møse who comes from Norway,Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov of Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. KN/GA/CE/FH(ME'0918e)