Arusha, September 4, 2003 (FH) – The 14th prosecution witness in the trial of four former senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR), on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that soldiers killed Tutsis and threw them in pit latrines in April1994. The protected witness code-named “DW” to keep her identity secret, is a survivor of the massacres committed in her native Rubungo commune, Kigali rural prefecture (central Rwanda).

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The witness revealed that on April 8, 1994, many people of all ethnic groups took refuge in secteur Remera at a place called Kibagabaga before moving on to Karama hill. They had run away from the sounds of gunfire that engulfed the area from the night of April 6. The death of Habyarimana that night marked the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. Soldiers form Kami military barracks arrived in Karama and started killing Tutsis who wanted to flee by throwing grenades at them. They then threwtheir bodies in the pit latrines of a school situated at the top of the hill. According to the witness who said she had lost three sisters in that operation, the soldiers ordered those who had not been killed and thrown in the toilets “to dig their own graves”. “In every pit, there were at least 20 people, including mothers with their children still strapped at their backs”, the witness claimed. The witness added that the soldiers never ceased to taunt them, telling them that their god had died, meaning that the late Habyarimana had always been their protector. Habyarimana had often been criticized by extremist Hutus for what they judged a lenient policy towards Tutsis. No sooner had they arrived at Karama, than the soldiers started telling them that they were taking them to Arusha, insinuating that they (the soldiers) no longer felt bound by the peace accords signed in this Tanzanian city between the government and the former rebel movement, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) in August 1993. The prosecution maintains that the senior officers had authority over members of the armed forces, even those not directly under their command. The indictment equally alleges that some members of the military high command were against the Arusha Peace Accords that would have compelled them to share power with the RPF. The so-called “military I” trial groups together the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lt. Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. The trial is being heard by Trial Chamber One of the ICTR presided over by Judge Eric Møse from Norway, assisted by Judge Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0904ee)