Arusha, May 9, 2011 (FH) - Deogratis Basesayabo, first defence witness in the case of former Rwandan military officer, Captain Idelphonse Nizeyimana told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday about three events where patients mostly Tutsis were abducted from the Butare University Teaching Hospital and killed after mid April, 1994.     

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Basesayabo who was doing his Medical Internship at the hospital said beginning April 15, 1994 the hospital was receiving wounded patients including civilians and soldiers and even other members of the population who were not wounded but sought refugee, as the hospital was considered a safer place compared to other areas engulfed with violence.

‘'A nurse told us in the morning of April 16,(1994) that soldiers abducted 10 patients and shot them dead outside the fence of the hospital,'' Basesayabo told the court as he was being led in his examination in-chief by the accused lead defence Counsel, John Philpot.

He added that there were two more such events where patients were abducted by soldiers and militiamen at night and led to their death next to the hospital compound and that most of the victims were considered to be Tutsis.

He explained that doctors, nurses and other hospital staff continued to work but as the security situation deteriorated, they started fleeing from the hospital especially when bombs commenced shelling near the hospital.

The witness though admitted to see three roadblocks one manned by Presidential Guard soldiers, the other one by the students of the University and the third by students  of the Non-Commissioned Officers Military Academy (ESO), he did not witness dead bodies at those areas but he saw some bodies along the road near the hospital.

The Prosecution took over to cross examine the witness after defence completed examination in-chief of the witness.

According to Counsel John Philpot, his team expects to call between 45 and 50 witnesses for the defence of their client.

The prosecution started its case on January 17, 2011 and rested it, on February 25 after presenting 38 witnesses.

Capt. Nizeyimana is charged with genocide, extermination, murder and rape. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Several prosecution witnesses alleged that Capt. Nizeyimana among others ordered, supervised and organized the massacres of Tutsis in various places in Butare, including that of Queen Rosalie Gicanda, the widower of the last but one Rwandan King Mutara III, Rudahingwa on or about April 21, 1994.

The defendant was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day.


© Hirondelle News Agency