Arusha, March 30, 2004 (FH) – The defence team of the former commander of the Para-commando battalion in Kanombe (Kigali), Major Aloys Ntabakuze on Monday qualified as “fabrications” allegations of rape made by a prosecution witness in the trial of four senior officers in the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) going on at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness, a former member of the Para-commando battalion, had last appeared before the tribunal in November and February when the defence had pleaded with the court for more time to study “new evidence”.

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Among the evidence were allegations of rape. The witness had asserted that Ntabakuze had led an attack against Tutsis who had taken refuge at IAMSEA (l'Institut Africain et Mauricien de Statistiques et d'Economie Appliquée) and a nearby religious centre ran by Jesuits. Tutsi women and girls were allegedly kidnapped and raped by soldiers under Ntabakuze's command. “What the witness is talking about is pure fantasy, it is not plausible”, declared Ntabakuze's Canadian co-counsel, André Tremblay. Tremblay pointed out that even though the witness had been interviewed many times by the prosecution, it was the first time rape was mentioned. “I never knew at that time that simply raping a woman and not killing was an act of genocide”, the witness answered in excuse. Code-named DBQ to protect his identity then added that he was ready to reveal all he knows about Ntabakuze “even if it takes one year before the tribunal. I will even write a book”. On the alleged attacks at IAMSEA, the defence referred to a declaration by an expert witness, the American human rights activist, Alison Des Forges, where she talked of a Major in the ex-FAR, most likely Ntabakuze, who had saved people at the site. “Is the Major in questioned not the accused?”, inquired Tremblay, to which the witness replied: “Those are pure lies. If you had been present and seen what he did, you would have cried”, retorted DBQ. Aloys Ntabakuze is jointly accused with the former director of Cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, 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 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. KN/CE/FH (ML''0330e)