Arusha, September 8, 2003(FH) - Former Rwandan Minister for Finance Emmanuel Ndindabahizi armed the Interahamwe militia and ordered them to kill Tutsis who had sought refuge at Gitwa hill during the 1994 genocide, a witness declared before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Monday. 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. The fifth protected prosecution witness recalled that the suspect arrived at a road below the Gitwa hill with two vehicles. One was his personal car and the other a pick-up which was carrying machetes and ferrying about twenty gendarmes. The witness, a farmer from Gitesi commune could not remember the exact dates but he believes it was between April 20th and 24th, 1994. Ndindabahizi, he said stopped and offloaded the machetes with the help of gendarmes and Interahamwe. The witness said he was able to see the suspect because he was hiding uphill about thirty metres from the road. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning. After that, Ndindabahizi addressed the crowd and told them, “There are Tutsis on the hill and they have proved to be difficult. You therefore have to kill them and when you do so, you will be compensated”. “He distributed machetes to them and they came up the hill to attack us,” the witness stated. When the Interahamwe launched the attack after receiving the machetes, the witness and other Tutsi refugees successfully fought them off by stoning them. On the 26th of April, the witness said, gendarmes went up the hill and shot at the refugees who scattered to the forest. During cross-examination, the lead counsel for Ndindabahizi, Pascal Besnier, told the witness that he could not have seen the suspect because he was hiding in the forest. The witness maintained that he had seen the suspect distributing weapons. The sixth prosecution witness, who said he knew Ndindabahizi well, also told the chamber he had seen Ndindabahizi distributing machetes to the Interahamwe on the foot of Gitwa hill on April 23th, 1994. The protected witness stated that the suspect had distributed the weapons and asked those who had received them to make good use of them. The Interahamwe, he added, rejoiced on receiving instructions. Ndindabahizi then drove towards Gisovu tea factory in a convoy of three vehicles. The following day, the witness said, the attackers who had received the weapons attacked the refugees on the hill, but they were overpowered. The trial continues on Tuesday with the cross-examination of the sixth prosecution witness by counsel Besnier. Ndindabahizi's trial is before Trial Chamber One, composed of Judge Erik Mose (Norway) presiding, Judge Khalida Rachid (Pakistan) and Judge Solomy Bossa Balungi (Uganda). PJ/CE/FH (NB'0908e)