Arusha, February 3, 2003 (FH) - A prosecution witness on Tuesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that the former minister of Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, had ordered militia to “rape all Tutsi women and girls and kill the rest”. The witness code-named “QBQ” to protect her identity, made these allegations during her appearance as the 25th prosecution witness in the so-called “Butare trial”.

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Nyiramasuhuko is not only the first woman to be indicted by the ICTR, she is also the first to be charged with rape as a war crime and crime against humanity. The prosecutor accuses her of encouraging sexual violence as part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilians on "political, ethnic and racial grounds". She is detained and on trial together with her son, former university student, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali. QBQ said that Nyiramasuhuko, accompanied by the prefect, her son and armed militia, had come to the Butare prefecture headquarters where many refugees had gathered. “What are these snakes still doing here?”, the witness described the accused as saying while standing with her hands on her hips. “Why don't you remove this rubbish?”. She then ordered the militia to “rape all Tutsi women and girls and kill the rest”. The witness informed the court that shortly afterwards, women were gang-raped, abducted or killed. Infected with HIVWitness QBQ then revealed that she had suffered at the hands of the militia and that she had even been infected with the HIV virus as a result of being raped repeatedly. “My life has been destroyed,” said the witness, adding that she now moves on crutches. “But now when I speak about my ordeal, I feel relieved”, the witness continued. QBQ, who was a house-girl in 1994, said that Nyiramasuhuko and her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, had led raiding parties that hunted down Tutsis. Asked by Nyiramasuhuko's defence counsel, Nicole Bergevin from Canada, the number of women raped, QPQ said that it would be difficult to estimate the figure but that “they were many”. She said that any woman who tried to resist was killed immediately. Nyiramasuhuko and her son are jointly accused with four former senior officials of the southern town of Butare; two former prefects of the town, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and two former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje of Ngoma and Muganza respectively. The trial continues in Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR composed of Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), and Judges Arlette Ramaroson from Madagascar and Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda. . KN/CE/FH (BT'0203c)