Arusha, February 9, 2004 (FH) – A prosecution witness in the Military I trial involving the former director of cabinet in the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and three other senior military officials on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he witnessed UNAMIR Belgian soldiers being killed. Part of the indictment states that the Belgian UNAMIR soldiers were from early 1994 targeted and provoked by the local militia.

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After the death ofpresident Habyarimana, Belgian soldiers sent to protect Prime Minister Agathe Uwingiliyimana were disarmed, arrested and taken to Kigali military camp, where they were massacred, prompting the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent in the days that followed. After the withdrawal of the Belgian troops, the UN Security Council drastically reduced the number of UNAMIR personnel in Rwanda. The witness code-named XAF to protect his identity described how he “saw two people lying dead when I arrived at the scene, five other white UNAMIR soldiers were standing pleading for mercy as they were being beaten by wounded soldiers who used their metal crutches. ”He further explained that “one UNAMIR soldier tried to run but was shot dead by another government soldier on guard at the scene. The remaining white UNAMIR soldiers were taken out of the building and killed”. XAF, who was a reconnaissance soldier at that time, told the court that the soldiers who killed belonged to the government's Headquarters Unit. This unit was in charge of logistics for the army. He narrated that he heard the soldiers telling the Belgian UNAMIR soldiers in Kinyarwanda, “They had killed their dead,” explaining that the soldiers believed that the Belgian Blue Helmets were responsible for shooting down the presidential plane on the evening of April 6, 1994. XAF, also the 40th prosecution witness in this case, said that he saw military officers go by the scene where the killing took place and did nothing. “Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, the in-charge of the Headquarters Unit accompanied by captains Ndangurura and Munana passed by and watched the scene,” he said, adding that they made no attempts to stop what was going on. During cross-examination, Paul Skolnik (Canada), Bagosora's co-counsel, asked the witness whether he agreed “that no officers could have stopped the wounded soldiers from perpetrating the crime because the situation was completely out of control?”. XAF conceded that, “No one would have prevented the situation, if anyone had interfered, they would have been shot down. ”Bagosora is jointly accused with the former military commander of Gisenyi region, Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, the former chief of operations of the former Rwandan army. Brigadier Gratien Kabiligi, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze, who was the commander of the Para-commando battalion based In Kanombe (Kigali) in the so called “MILITARY I” trial. All have pleaded not guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. The next witnesses lined up to testify this week are EQ and VCH. The trial continues on Tuesday and it is in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, presided by Norwegian Judge Erik Mose, assisted by judges Serguei Egorov from Russia and Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. SV/CE/FH (ML'0209e)