Arusha, January 27, 2004 (FH)-The twenty fourth prosecution witness in the so called "Butare trial" Tuesday told the InternationalCriminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he witnessed one of the accused, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, raping a young lady and later killing her by striking her forehead with an small axe. The witness code-named "XX" to conceal his identity for security reasons, was testifying in a joint trial involving six accusedpersons from Butare prefecture (southern Rwanda), including Shalom's mother, former minister of Family and Women Affairs, PaulineNyiramasuhuko.

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Witness XX was being led in his examination in chief by ICTR trial attorney Jonathan Moses. Earlier the witness alleged that a roadblock was erected near the house of the former minister where Interahamwe militia allegedly stopped Tutsis and killed them. Without mentioning the date, the witness told Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR that "many people" were killed at the roadblock under theorders and supervision of Shalom. XX claimed he was monitoring the killings from a house nearby where he was hiding. He said when the killings slowed down just before dark he went to the Anglican Church complex (EER) where he saw Shalom together with the young lady. From a distance, the witness watched as Shalom forcibly undressed the lady and raped her. "Later, he struck her with a small axe andkilled her," he narrated. Other suspects in this case include two former Butare prefects, Alphonse Nteziryayo and Sylvain Nsabimana and two former Mayors, Elie Ndayambaje of Muganza commune and Joseph Kanyabashi of Ngoma commune. Charges against them include genocide, crimes against humanity, complicity to commit genocide. They have pleaded not guilty to allcharges. Witness XX took over the stand unexpectedly because a witness who had been scheduled by the prosecution, another protected witness code-named "QBQ", was still under medical attention since Monday. The trial is expected to continue on Wednesday. The case is being heard in Trial Chamber Two presided over by Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania who is assisted by Judges Arlette Ramaroson from Madagascar and Salome Bossa of Uganda. NI/KN/AT/FH (BT''0127e)