Arusha, February 18, 2003 (FH) - A prosecution witness on Tuesday claimed that the former minister of health in the Rwandan interim government,Casimir Bizimungu, had in April 1994, “extolled massacres” during a visit to Kigali central hospital (CHK). The witness, code-named “GIE” to protect his identity, made the allegations at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where Bizimungu is being tried in the so-called Government II trial.

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The witness, the 14th already called by the prosecution, is a Tutsi survivor of the genocide who was an employee of the ministry of health in 1994. The accused is jointly tried with three other former ministers; The former minister of commerce, Justin Mugenzi, Jerome Bicamumpaka, the foreign affairs minister, and that of civil service, Prosper Mugiraneza. They are each charged with six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity against Tutsis as well as other crimes committed all over Rwanda between April and July 1994. “Instead of the minister (Bizimungu) calling for calm, he instead extolled the massacres”, claimed GIE, adding that the incident happened on April 12. The accused allegedly told workers at the hospital that “the war has already come to an end in Kimihurura residential area”. Government ministers resided in the area. He continued that the end of the war meant the extermination of people suspected to be accomplices of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) rebellion which at that time was at war with the government. “What are you people waiting for, what do you lack”? The minister allegedly asked workers at the hospital. Many injured Tutsis had come to the hospital to seek treatment. GIE continued that one member of staff at CHK replied that “the major problem is the high number of bodies”. The former minister then promised to send them lorries and prisoners “to load the bodies”. “Interahamwe (militia) were bringing bodies to the hospital, the Red Cross was doing the same, and some people had been killed at the hospital”, he explained. The witness had earlier alleged that the ministry of health employed Interahamwe and that the minister must have known about it. “He must have been aware. They were members of the MRND (the ruling party) like him. He knew them”, insisted the witness. Witness GIE was being questioned by Paul Ngarua, the lead prosecutor in this trial known as “Government Two”. The day's proceedings came to an end when Michelyne Chénard Saint Laurent, Bizimungu's lead counsel had started cross-examining the witness. She will continue on Wednesday. The trial is taking place in Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR composed of Judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana from Sri Lanka (presiding) Judeg Lee Gacuiga Muthoga of Kenya and Khalida Rashid Khan from Pakistan. Another trial, dubbed “Government I” is also taking place. It groups together four other senior members of the Hutu dominated former government. KN/ER/AT/CE/FH(GVII''0218e)