Arusha, April 19, 2004 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the trial of four senior officers of the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) being heard at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Monday said that the former director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defense, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora signed authorisation documents allowing Interahamwe militia to be supplied with weapons and food. The witness referred to as "KJ" to protect his identity, is the 56th witness to be called by the prosecution.

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He said that he had been on guard as a gendarme at Kibuye (Western Rwanda) gendarmerie camp at the height of the genocide. He told the court that he first encountered the document when he was sent to collect supplies for the camp from Kigali. "On our way, we met an Interahamwe called Abdulrahmani who showed us a piece of paper allowing him to conduct operations throughout the prefecture in Gitarama (central Rwanda). It was signed by Bagosora", the witness told the court. "Many of the authorities came to the camp several times between April and July with similar authorization. It was a typed document from the Ministry of Defense signed by Bagosora". He added that "the only difference was the location and areas they were to operate in". The authorities he mentioned were mainly senior government officials some of whom have been indicted or tried by the Tribunal in Arusha. They include former president of MRND party, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, former Minister for information, Eliezer Niyitegeka and the gendarmerie chief of Staff, Augustin Ndindiliyimana. Colonel Theoneste Bagosora is co-accused with the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, former commander of Kanombe Para-military battalion based in Kigali. All four have pleaded not guilty to charges of, among others, genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The so-called "Military I" trial started on April, 2, 2002 and it is being heard in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. SV/KN/JA/GF/FH (ML''0419e)