Arusha, March 31, 2004 (FH) – A prosecution witness testifying at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Tuesday claimed that after the assassination of former President Habyarimana on April 6 1994, Belgians were associated with opposition political figures. The witness code-named “LN” to protect his identity, is the 49th prosecution witness in the trial of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) who are accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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The witness was a soldier attached to the medical unit at Kanombe military barracks in Kigali. He alleged that the day after the president's death, the former director of Cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, had chaired a meeting of senior army officers in which it was decided that all Tutsi accomplices of the “enemy”, opposition figures and Belgians should be killed. Bagosora is one of the four army officers on trial in this case. “The Belgians were associated with opposition politicians”, stated LN, though he added that he had been given the information by a colleague. On April 7, 1994, ten Belgians blue helmets guarding Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana were killed by members of the ex-FAR in Kigali. The Prime Minister was also killed on the same day as well as other members of the opposition. Bagosora is particularly accused of the deaths of the Belgian soldiers and Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana. The witness also alleged that another accused in this trial, the former commander of the Para-commando battalion of Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze, had declared that with the death of Habyarimana, the war was going to take another turn. According to LN, Ntabakuze had told to his men that not only were they supposed to fight the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, but they should also fight all Tutsis, regarded as their accomplices. He then told his troops to be on guard against money and Tutsi women and also warned them against looting telling them that all the property would be theirs after eliminating the “enemy”. The witness had earlier during his testimony alleged that Maj. Ntabakuze had, in 1992, started giving lesson in “political ideology” at Kanombe barracks. He said that the aim of the lessons was to define the “enemy” (rebels of the Tutsi-dominated RPF and Tutsis living in Rwanda). 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. All have pleaded not guilty. The trial continues on Wednesday with the cross-examination of the witness by the defence. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML''0331e)