Arusha, September 5, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishemadid all in his power to try to save Tutsis during the 1994 genocide,Bagilishema's defence team told the International Criminal Tribunal forRwanda (ICTR) on Monday. French defence lawyer François Roux and Mauritanian co-counsel MaroufaDiabira told the court that Bagilishema had never adhered to the ideologyof genocide.

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They were speaking at the start of their closing arguments inBagilishema's trial for genocide and crimes against humanity. The accused was mayor of Mabanza in the Kibuye prefecture of westernRwanda. He is charged with massacres of Tutsis in Mabanza and three nearbycommunes. Bagilishema's defence lawyers stressed that right from the start of thegenocide in April 1994, their client "went around all districts trying tocalm things down". They said he also appealed to his superiors to help himstop the massacres. Defence witnesses have testified that killings in Mabanza commune werecarried out by "Abakiga" attackers from nearby communes and thatBagilishema did not have the means to stop them. The prosecution argues, however, that the accused was selective in who hesaved and who he sacrificed during the massacres. Prosecutors called earlier Monday for the court to hand down a lifesentence on Bagilishema. This is the maximum possible sentence at the ICTR. Defence lawyers are calling for an acquittal. They continue their closingarguments on Tuesday morning. AT/JH/FH (BS%0905e)