Arusha, March 5, 2004 (FH) – The twentieth prosecution witness in the trial of four former Rwandan ministers taking place at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Friday claimed that investigators who took down his statement misquoted him. “The person who took down my statement must have made a mistake”, said witness “GHV”, so-called to protect his identity.

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The witness was being cross-examined by Pierre Gaudreau from Canada, the defence counsel one of the accused, the former minister of foreign affairs in Rwandan interim government Jerome Bicamumpaka. According to GHV, Bicamumpaka called upon Hutus to mobilise against Tutsis during a meeting held in Ruhango (Gitarama province, central Rwanda) some time in April 1994. But his testimony in the tribunal differed from his statement as to the time the alleged meeting took place. He had stated in court that the meeting took place before noon yet his statement put the time at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. “Was the statement read to you before you signed it?”, asked Gaudreau. “It was read to me but I do not accept the mistake”, the witness answered. “Did you request that the error be rectified?” continued the lawyer. The witness replied in the negative telling the tribunal that only his testimony should be taken to be the truth. “If my statement was taken to be the Gospel truth, what is the need of my presence here?” protested the GHV. After the witness's testimony, the trial went into closed session as all parties discussed the calendar. Bicamumpaka is jointly accused with the former ministers, Justin Mugenzi (Commerce), Casimir Bizimungu (Health) and Prosper Mugiraneza (Public Service). Each of the accused is charged with six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Tutsis in different parts of Rwanda. All plead not guilty. The so-called “Government Two” trial is taking place in Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR, composed of Judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana for Sri Lanka (presiding), Judge Lee Gacuiga Muthoga from Kenya and Khalid Rashid Khan from Pakistan. KN/ER/AT/CE/FH (GVII'0305e)