Arusha, June 1st, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan mayor and genocide suspect Ignace Bagilishema on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that he tried to stop massacres in his commune, but did not have the means. "The attacks on Mabanza commune [Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda] were way bigger than the means at my disposition," Bagilishema said as he started testifying in his own defence, "so that I could not stop them.

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In such conditions, I was really humiliated and I did not know what to do. "Bagilishema told the court that he had organized patrols to try to stop the killing and held meetings to urge the population to remain united. He said he did everything he could to try to stop the attackers, but that "they were stronger than us". Defence witnesses, of whom the accused himself is the last, have claimed that attacks came from "Abakiga" outsiders from other communes. They have also said that Bagilishema asked for security reinforcements but did not get them. . Bagilishema was speaking in response to judges' questions. Most of Thursday's testimony focussed on events prior to the 1994 genocide and on Bagilishema's earlier life. He is expected to give more details in the coming days about what happened in Mabanza between April and July 1994. Bagilishema is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, to which he pleaded not-guilty. His trial began on September 27th, 1999. The prosecution has brought 18 witnesses and the defence 14. AT/FH (BS%0601E )