Arusha, July 3, 2003 (FH) - Defence teams in the trial of four senior army officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR), on Wednesday accused a prosecution witness of perjury before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The defence came to that conclusion after pointing out contradictions in the statement "DO" made to ICTR investigators and his court testimony.

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Testifying since Monday, the witness has mostly incriminated one of the accused, the former military commander of Gisenyi (north-west Rwanda) region, Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. Nsengiyumva is jointly accused with Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, a former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence, the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former commander of the Para-commando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze. Kabiligi's franco-Togolese lawyer, Jean Yaovi Degli, referred back to the meeting Nsengiyumva allegedly chaired at Gisenyi military camp on April 7, 2003 prior to ordering that arms and ammunition be distributed to Interahamwe militia. During his testimony, "DO" had told the chamber that the distribution had been carried out by "three or four soldiers" that he failed to name. Degli pointed out that there were two different versions of events in the witness's written statements. In one statement, "DO" said that he "seen Nsengiyumva giving out guns and grenades", yet in another, he said that "after the meeting (of April 7) arms were distributed by Captain Bizumuremyi on the orders of Colonel Nsengiyumva". "To me, what I have said before the chamber and what I said in my statements are the same", said the witness. On his side, Ntabakuze's lawyer, André Tremblay from Canada, asked the witness whether members of the prosecution had helped him prepare his testimony. "DO" replied in the positive, but when asked identify a member of the prosecution team, Rashid Rashid, he was unable to do so. "This is perjury", Tremblay reacted, applying for the prosecutor to indict the witness for giving false testimony. The rules of procedure and evidence of the tribunal, stipulates that "If a Chamber has strong grounds for believing that a witness may be knowingly and wilfully given false testimony, the Chamber may direct the Prosecutor to investigate the matter with a view to the preparation and submission of an indictment for false testimony". The defence teams' complaintsAfter the cross-examination of "DO", the defence challenged the witness's testimony which they said was irrelevant to the indictment against their clients. "This vacuum is the prosecutor's fault", accused Nsengiyumva's co-counsel, Ottachi Bw'Omanwa from Kenya. "We do not know where the prosecutor wants to lead us" he said. Coming in support of Ottachi, Bagosora counsel, Raphael Constant also raised some doubt. "The introduction of new elements of proof means that either we start from scratch or we ignore them", he remarked. Addressing the court, the defence counsels argued that the testimonies of prosecution witnesses did not clearly and distinctively reflect any elements in the indictments. "I would like to point out to the chamber that we have failed to define what any of the evidence bears on each of our clients" Constant declared. The chamber will render its decisions on the arguments on Thursday. The trial, known as "Military one I", is being conducted in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of Judge Erik Møse of Norway, assisted by Serguei Aleckseievich of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'0703e)