Arusha, February 25, 2004 (FH)- A prosecution witness in the Government II trial on Wednesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former Health Minister and genocide suspect Casimir Bizimungu asked employees in his Ministry of Health to contribute money for buying fire arms. Bizimungu is in a joint trial with the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service.

1 min 28Approximate reading time

They each face six counts of genocide and crime against humanity. The seventeeth prosecution witness identified as GAT to keep her identity secret testified that Bizimungu told the employees the money was to help boost the morale of the Rwandese national army. “The minister asked us to make a contribution to help the army fight the enemy,” she said, adding that “during a meeting the minister suggested that contributions be made to help the army buy arms”. She explained that the enemy which the minister referred to was the RPF. The witness who was then a secretary at the Ministry of Health could not remember the date and the year the meeting took place. She only recalled that the meeting, attended mainly by employees in the Ministry of Health, took place at Nyamirambo Cultural Centre. “We knew the money would be used to buy arms to kill the Tutsi civilians,” GAT said. She went on that she was initially reluctant to contribute and she was informed that she would be categorized as an accomplice of RPF if she refused. The witness said she eventually paid 200 Rwandan Francs because she was intimidated by drivers of the ministry who were Interahamwe and had been assigned to collect the money. GAT said she heard that civil servants in other ministries had also been asked to contribute financially to the army. Apart from making contributions to the national army, GAT stated that the civil servants in the ministry of Health were also required to contribute money to the MRND, the then ruling party. The amount deduced from each worker was equivalent of two days of work, once a year. The chief examination of GAT continues on Thursday. Government II Trial is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan)PJ/CE/FH (GVII'0225e)