Arusha, March 22, 2003 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the Butare trial on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that the former mayor of Ngoma (Butare province, southern Rwanda), Joseph Kanyabashi, had ordered the killing of refugees after giving them false hope that they would be safe. The 42nd prosecution witness code-named “QI”, told the tribunal that when killings started in and around Butare, many people, himself included, had taken refuge at Matyazo dispensary in Ngoma.

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He then claimed that Kanyabashi went to visit the refugees accompanied by six soldiers and promised the refugees that he would protect hem. “He said that their safety was assured and that nothing would happen to them”, continued QI. According to the witness, the mayor then called the soldiers aside and told them to wait until he was gone and “get down to work”. QI explained to the court that he had been hiding nearby and was able to overhear the conversation. He stated that the soldiers armed with guns began shooting at the refugees. Joseph Kanyabashi is jointly tried with the former minister of family women and family affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 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 in Butare. All have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity. Most of the trial was conducted in closed session but the defence had started cross-examining the witness in the afternoon. 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. The trial continues on Wednesday. KN/CE/FH (BT''0323e)