Arusha, October 22, 2009 (FH) - A genocide survivor and fourth prosecution witness in the trial against the former Rwandan Director in the Ministry of Family and Women Affairs, Jean-Baptiste Gatete, Wednesday informed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) how the accused ordered killings of Tutsi men at Kiziguro Parish in Byumba prefecture , north-eastern Rwanda, on April 11, 1994.

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The accused is facing charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. He has denied the accusations.

Led in Examination-in-Chief by Ugandan Richard Karegyesa, Acting ICTR Chief of Prosecutions, the witness code-named ‘‘BUY'', to protect her identity, said that at around 9 am on that day (April 11) the interahamwe militia stormed into the church and forced about 3,000 refugees out.

The protected witness narrated that she and her mother, like other refugees, ran away from their homes and sought shelter at the church following attacks from the interahamwe militia.

She told the attentive Chamber, Presided by Judge Khalida Khan from Pakistan, that the accused Gatete arrived at the church in the company of soldiers and directed the interahamwe to stop snatching  refugees' properties, instead ordered them ‘'to start killing Tutsi men so that when the inkontanyi (former rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front-RPF- now in power) arrived at the site, should not see any of them [Tutsi men] alive.''

According to the witness, thereafter large scale killings started.

The witness added that soon after the church compound was scattered with dead bodies. She, and others still alive, were forced around 10 am to carry away the corpses to about 500 meters and dumped them into a ditch, an exercise which lasted at least nine hours.

BUY further explained that Gatete returned to the massacre site at around 3 pm, and this time around, the accused inquired from the Interahamwe militiamen if there were still some remaining Tutsis.

‘'Refugees who had hidden inside the church were forced out and led to the mass grave (ditch) where they were killed and dumped,'' she claimed.

The witness also alleged that the attackers committed rapes against women and girls after abducting them from the church court yard.

According to the witness, she managed to escape after one of the interahamwe helped to secretly sneak her away from the site.

The witness has concluded her testimony.

The trial, which started on Tuesday, continues Thursday.

The defendant was arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on September 11, 2002, and subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.


© Hirondelle News Agency