Arusha, April 1, 2004 (FH) – A prosecution witness in the case of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) going on at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday fell sick and had to be temporarily replaced in the witness box. The trial chamber released witness code-named “LN” because he “does not feel well” and heard the testimony of “DBN”.

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Both are protected witnesses. The prosecutor had on Tuesday made known his anxiety of the witness's health, pointing out that he was a handicapped man in a wheel chair. Just like other previous witnesses who had testified, DBN alleged that the former commander of the Para-commando battalion based in Kigali, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, had urged his men to hunt down Tutsis immediately after the shooting down of the plane carrying former president Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. Ntabakuze allegedly gave the orders on the morning of April 7. Another co-accused in this trial, the former director of Cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, allegedly arrived shortly after Ntabakuze's address to his elite unit. DBN stated that moments later, gunfire and explosions could be heard coming from Akajagari neighbourhood, close to Kanombe camp. He continued that while on his way to re-supply soldiers guarding president Habyarimana's residence which was also close to the camp, he saw many bodies all over the neighbourhood. “Soldiers from my unit were loading the bodies onto a truck belonging to Kanombe commune,” he said. Bagosora and Ntabakuze are jointly charged with the former head of military operations of the army, Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, and the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of having planned and executed the genocide that claimed an estimated one million people. The so-called “Military I” trial is taking place in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway, Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. The trial will continue on Thursday with the continuation of LN's testimony before resuming with DBN. KN/CE/FH (ML''0401e)