Arusha, February 24, 2003 (FH) – The so-called “Butare trial” which groups together six genocide suspects continued on Tuesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) almost entirely behind closed doors. During the brief open session, which lasted no more than 10 minutes, an active genocide participant and prosecution witness told the trial chamber that the former mayor of Muganza commune Elie Ndayambaje, one of the accused in this case, opened the communal jail doors and let the inmates out a few days after the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana.

1 minApproximate reading time

The witness dubbed QBZ was responding to the questions during cross examination by the counsel for the accused, Pierre Boulé from Canada. The self-confessed killer said that the former mayor later on separated the detainees into Tutsis and Hutus. Following the separation, he said the Tutsis were sent back to jail and later killed by Hutus under the orders of Ndayambaje. Soon after that the chamber went in closed session and did not come back in open session for the rest of the day. Ndayambaje is jointly charged with the former minister of women and family affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, her son and former militia leader in Butare,Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, two former prefects of Butare, Sylvain Nsabimana and Colonel Alphonse Nteziryayo, and former mayors of Ngoma commune Joseph Kanyabashi. All have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial is expected to continue on Wednesday 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''0224e)