Arusha, February 23, 2004 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the “Military I”trial on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)that the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence,Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, told the Interahamwe “to be courageous in theirwork”. Work was a widely used term during the genocide, which meant to kill Tutsis.

1 min 27Approximate reading time

The witness code-named XAQ to conceal his identity told the court that he“saw Bagosora shortly after the crash of the presidential plane talking toInterahamwe in a meeting in a place called Nonko (near Kanombe camp, KigaliUrban). ”The witness said that he did not have enough time to hear more from Bagosorabut that he saw around 50 soldiers at the meeting which was held outside thecamp on April, 7th around 10 am. The witness, who was a soldier with the paracommando battalion said thatmilitary officials conducted training secretly without informing UNAMIRofficials. UNAMIR officials were in Rwanda at the time to oversee the smoothenforcement of the Arusha peace accord, which did not support furthermilitary training. XAQ, the 47th prosecution witness in this case, had earlier told the courtthat prior to the genocide, when colonel Bagosora was the commander of theKanombe camp (at the beginning of the 1990s), he used to organize meetings. “I attended more than five, even though he did not convene meetingsfrequently,” the witness said, although he could not explain what Bagosorasaid during these meetings. Bagosora is considered by the prosecution to be the “mastermind” of thegenocide. Part of the indictment states, “Having been psychologically and militarilyprepared for several months, the groups of militiamen spearheaded theexecution of the extermination plan and were directly involved in themassacres of the civilian Tutsis population and of moderate Hutus, thuscausing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in less than 100 days”. Bagosora is jointly charged with, the former head of operations in theformer Rwandan army, Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi, the formercommander of the Kanombe Para-military battalion based in Kigali, MajorAloys Ntabakuze and the former military commander of Gisenyi region,Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. XAQ is currently being cross-examined. The Military I trial is before trial Chamber One of the ICTR, presided overby Judge Erik Møse of Norway. Who is assisted by Judge Serguei AleckseievichEgorov of Russia as well as Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. SV/CE/FH (ML'0223ee)