Arusha, 10 April 2008 (FH) - A witness for the prosecutor in the Karemera trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) during his cross-examination Thursday, claimed that he had wrongfully accused a former politician in order to be released from prison in Rwanda.

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In 2005 and 2006, the protected witness only known by code "BTH" had stated that Joseph Nzirorera, former secretary-general of the former governing party in Rwanda(MRND), had ordered, as of 7 April 1994, that Tutsis in Ruhengeri,northern Rwanda, be massacred.

BTH, who was held in Rwanda, was thereafter released and fled his country. It is from exile that he revealed that he was forced to testify against certain people accused before the ICTR, including Nzirorera.

He claimed that he as well as others detained in Rwanda had received the order to give false testimony before the ICTR. In order to bring credibility to his first testimonies, he admitted to having killed five and later six Tutsis, which he denied. "I did not kill anybody ...in my legal files I was never accused of murder. it was all made up", he said.

"We had already spent a long time in prison and when they asked us to give these false testimonies we thought that it was a way out which was offered to us", he explained. BTH said such orders were to be carried out, especially that they came from the "authorities".

The lawyer for Nzirorera, Peter Robinson (United States), had raised several contradictions in his two preceding testimonies. BTH answered: "it was easy to be contradicted because we told lies and at certain times it was difficult to remember what we had said before". "We were to repeat a text which we had learned and which was not the truth", he continued.

Nzirorera has been on trial since September 2005 alongside two other officials for the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development , the party of the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death, 6 April 1994, during an attack on his plane, started the genocide.

The co-defendants of Nzororera are Matthieu Ngirumpatse, the president of the party, and Edouard Karemera, one of his vice-presidents.

The prosecutor, who had collected his first testimony, drew the attention of the witness to the risk of being indicted for contempt of the tribunal after having admitted to have made false testimonies. The witness took this opportunity to share his concerns for his safety.

Since the beginning of the hearings in 1997 the accusations of false testimony have multiplied at the ICTR.A first witness was tried and convicted end of last year and has just been released after having served nine months in prison.


© Hirondelle News Agency