Arusha, March 29, 2004 (FH) – Michel Marchand, lead counsel for Joseph Kanyabashi, former mayor of Ngoma commune and acused with five others in the Butare trial, on Monday challenged the credibility of the 43rd prosecution witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). MARCHand, who was cross examining the witness code-named 'RL', based his arguments on three written statements made by the witness to ICTR investigators in 1996, 1997 and 1998 which, according to the defense have some omissions and contradictions in comparison with the witness's oral testimony in court.

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While in oral testimony the witness denied having heard that inkontanyi (derogative term for Tutsis during genocide) and the Belgian soldiers shot down the plane carrying President Habyarimana on April, 6th, 1994, his written statement of July 11th, 1996 stated just the opposite. “I made this statement but I am not sure about the date,” the witness responded to counsel Marchand after re-reading the statement to refresh the witness's memory. Soon after, the chamber went in closed session until well in the afternoon. Earlier, during examination in-chief, ‘'RL'' pointed out on video images displayed in court, various areas where he allegedly saw Kanyabashi during the massacres. These included Ngoma parish complex and the playground where the meeting allegedly led by the accused was held. Kanyabashi is jointly tried with Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former minister for Family and Women Affaires and her son and militia leader, Shalom Arsene Ntahobali, two former prefects of Butare; Colonel Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana and Elie Ndayambaje, former mayor of Muganza commune. All have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity. Counsel Marchand continues cross questioning witness ‘'RL'' on Tuesday. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Judge Arlette Ramaroson from Madagascar and Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda. NI/CE/FH (BT''0329e)