Arusha, February 18, 2004 (FH) - A prosecution witness in the “Military I” trial involving the former commander of the Kanombe Para-military battalion, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, on Wednesday reconfirmed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) what he said in his testimony during examination in chief. Ntabakuze is jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the Rwandan ministry of defence, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of operations in the former Rwandan army, Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi,and the former military commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva.

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They are mostly charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. All have pleaded not guilty. The witness, code-named “GS” to conceal his identity, was cross-examined by Ntabakuze's co-counsel, André Tremblay from Canada and Bagosora's lead counsel Raphael Constant (France) regarding his testimony. GS reconfirmed that he heard Ntabakuze predicting the genocide. “I saw him snapping his fingers and heard him saying, ‘they have killed him (Habyarimana) but many will die as a result of his death',” he repeated. The death of former president Habyarimana on the evening of the 6th of April triggered off the genocide against Tutsis as well as massacres of the opposition that claimed the lives of an estimated one million lives between April and July, 1994. The witness also said that Ntabakuze was present when an order was made to make coffins for the people who would be killed. “Major Ntabakuze was in thecompany of Major Ntibihura who was the in charge of the BM battalion, when Ntibihura gave instructions for the construction of caskets,” the witness said. GS who was himself a member of the BM battalion (in charge of construction) at Kanombe also confirmed that he saw his commander “distributing weapons daily at the Kanombe camp”. GS, the 44th prosecution witness, also reconfirmed that he saw Para-commando unit soldiers leaving the camp a day after the death of the president and started massacres around Kanombe. “I saw dead bodies near Kanombe camp,” he said. After cross-examination of GS was completed, the prosecution fell short of witnesses. The next witness to testify, code-named AH, was reported ill. The next witnesses, DN, DBQ and XAQ, are expected to arrive in Arusha on Wednesday evening. Presiding judge Erik Mose expressed concern over the shortage of witnesses. He informed the registrar to ensure that “there must always be more witnesses than required at any one time”. The trial will proceed on Thursday afternoon. It is in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, presided over by Judge Erik Møse of Norway, assisted by Judge Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov of Russia and Judge Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. SV/CE/FH (ML'0218e)