Arusha, January 27, 2004 (FH)- The vice-president of the Rwanda Senate, Prosper Higiro, Tuesday testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on how he eluded attackers during the 1994 genocide. Higiro who is the eighth prosecution witness in the trial of four former Rwandan ministers, said he separated from his family on the morning of April 7th 1994 and hid in a neighbour's house.

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He said that shortly afterwards he heard grenades being thrown at his residence near Kanombe Airport in Kigali. When the attackers realized there was no one in the house they left. Higiro, who is also the chairman of the Liberal Party (PL), stayed at his neighbour's house until April 11th 1994 when RPF soldiers took him with his family to the CND building. The witness explained that when he heard of President Juvenal Habyarimana's death, he anticipated that killings would occur. Earlier attempts by Higiro to flee the country to Tanzania shortly before the death of Habyarimana flopped when the RTLM broadcast that he was in Kibungo as a spy of RPF. He had gone to Kibungo so as to cross to Tanzania from there. He added that he immediately went back to Kigali since he knew he would be killed if he proceeded to the border. From then, he decided to sleep in hotels because he knew he was a wanted man. After the witnesses completed his testimony in chief, the trial chamber rejected a motion by the defence of former minister of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi, which sought to have sections of his oral evidence expunged. Mugenzi is being tried jointly with former minister of Health, Casimir Bizimungu, the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service. They all face six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Mugenzi's co-counsel, Ben Gumpert from United Kingdom, argued the oral motion shortly after Higiro, completed his evidence in chief. Gumpert argued that the prosecution had failed to disclose to the defence the entire evidence of Higiro . The witness mainly testified against Mugenzi who, in 1991, was the chairman of PL. "A very considerable portion of this witness's evidence is entirely new", Gumpert stated. He asked the trial chamber to reject the new testimony of Higiro adding that its admission would amount to abuse of Mugenzi's rights to a fair trial. Presiding Judge Asoka de Zoyza Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) ruled that the oral evidence by Higiro was not new and can be challenged by Mugenzi's defence in cross-examination. He dismissed the motion. Higiro will be cross-examined on Wednesday by Mugenzi's counsel. Judge Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan) in Trial Chamber Two of the ICTR. PJ/KN/AT/FH (GVII''0127e)