Arusha, July 10, 2003 (FH) – Defence counsel for the former military commander of Gisenyi (north-west) region, Lieutenant- Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva who is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday rejected allegations by a prosecution witness that the accused had led an attack against a church during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The ninth prosecution witness code-named “XBG” to protect his identity, had told the court that Nsengiyumva had led an attack against hundreds of Tutsis who had taken refuge at Busasamana parish in Rwerere commune (Gisenyi prefecture) where between 180 and 200 lost their lives.

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One of Nsengiyumva's co-counsel, Kennedey Ogetto from Kenya, pointed out that XBG was not an eye-witness to the alleged events because according to his own account, the witness was at that moment looting the priests' chambers. Ogetto also challenged the witness on how he came to the figure of “between 180 and 200 dead”, yet he had stated during his direct examination that he had not seen nor counted the dead because the chapel where the killings took place was locked. “I took into consideration the dimensions of the chapel because I used to pray there”, retorted the witness, adding that the room was littered with corpses. “The people who carried out the killings spoke to us about it”, he further explained. “I put it to you witness, that the Busasamana episode never took place. That is why you never mentioned it to prosecutor's office in Rwanda”, Ogetto announced. XBG was released from prison in Rwanda as a result of a presidential decree published in January. The witness having essentially testified against Anatole Nsegiyumva, the other defence lawyers in this joint trial dwelt mainly on XBG's arrest and detention in Rwanda. Nsengiyumva is jointly accused with the former chief of military operations of the Rwandan army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major alloys Ntabakuze. The so-called “Military I” trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse (presiding)I assisted by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. XBG's cross-examination ended on Wednesday and the session was adjourned to Monday, July 14. The defence teams requested for more time to prepare for the next prosecution witness dubbed “XBM”, while did not have any other witness available for this week. The current session is scheduled to go one until July 18, though difficulties in transporting other witnesses form Rwanda might affect the calendar. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0710e)