Arusha, October 30th, 2000 (FH) - Tutsi refugees were doused with petrol and set alight during an attack in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda, in 1994, a prosecution witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday, as the so-called Cyangugu trial continued against three genocide suspects. The ninth witness, dubbed "LAY" to protect his identity, told the court that Tutsis taking refuge at the Nyamasheke Parish in Cyangugu were sprayed with petrol and set alight during one of the attacks in mid-April 1994 that left thousands dead.

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He was speaking during cross-examination in the trial of former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, Cyangugu military leader Samuel Imanishimwe and former Rwandan Transport Minister André Ntagerura. The prosecution says the three suspects conspired together to organise the extermination of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. Witness LAY said he saw the victims burning, including his baby daughter born at the Nyamasheke Parish, where his family went to escape persecution. He said she burned to death with his wife days after they arrived at the Parish. However, Ntagerura's Canadian lawyer Henry Benoit said that the witness was making that statement to make the scenario "sound more bleak" and to implicate the authorities. He said there were contradictions between LAY's written statement to ICTR investigators and what the witness was telling the court. But witness LAY said that vehicles were used to bring petrol to the Nyamasheke Parish, including one from the commune office. He said the attackers put it on strips of fabric and mattress foam to torch the buildings and the refugees. The defence maintained that the witness had not included these details in his written statement and said that this was questionable. Defence counsel for Imanishimwe Georges So'o maintained that the witness, who had lost all his family and property in the genocide, might not be objective in his testimony. The suspects are appearing before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judges Lloyd Williams of Jamaica (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Cross-questioning of the witness is expected to continue on Tuesday. SW/JC/FH (CY%3010e)