Arusha, July 15, 2003 (FH) – A prosecution witness in the so-called “Military I” trial on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, organised massacres of Tutsis in Gisenyi (north-west Rwanda) in April 1994. The witness code-named “XBM” to protect his identity is the tenth prosecution witness in the case of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) standing trial at the ICTR.

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The witness told the court that on April 27 and 28, 1994, 430 Tutsis were killed at a place called Nyundo. ”They were hiding in a basement and were shot by Interahamwe from Kigali who had been sent by Bagosora”, he said, adding that the attackers had joined forces with Interahamwe from Gisenyi. After the Nyundo massacres, Bagosora allegedly came to Gisenyi on May 24, 1994 aboard a helicopter “to congratulate the Interahamwe. On that occasion he is said to have given the attackers Frw. 500,000 (the equivalent of US $ 3,500 at that time). XBM continued that Bagosora then selected “the best killers” from among the Interahamwe and sent them to Mugina (Gitarama prefecture in central Rwanda) to carry out further massacres. About 600 people were killed there. Considered as the mastermind of the genocide, Bagosora is jointly being tried together with the former chief of military operations of the Rwandan army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, the former commander of Gisenyi military region, Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsegiyumva, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major alloys Ntabakuze. XBM also told the court that immediately after the death of president Habyarimana, Nsengiyumva had led an attack against Mudende University (Gisenyi) where “about 2,000 Tutsis had sought refuge. Nsengiyumva allegedly ordered all those who were not armed to move away from the university complex. “Moments after he had departed, soldiers and Interahamwe started shooting at the refugees”, recounted XBM, putting the date of the attack between April 7 and 9, 1994. The witness continued that those who had not died from the shooting, were finished off the next day “using traditional weapons”. He added that as a precursor to the massacres, Bagosora and Nsengiyumva had conducted meetings at the end of 1993 and early 1994, where they distributed weapons to Interahamwe. During his cross-examination, Bagosora's Franco-Martinique's counsel, Rafael Constant, immediately pointed out that the witness was side-stepping answering questions and appealed to the chamber to call him to order. The presiding judge of Trial Chamber One, Erik Møse, had to intervene on many occasions to explain to XBM the relevance of the cross-examination. The witness had termed “pointless” questions regarding his political affiliations at the time, as well as the political party meetings he had attended prior to the genocide. Cross-examination of the witness continues on Tuesday in chamber one of the ICTR. Judge Møse is in that chamber by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0715e)