Arusha, October 23rd, 2000 (FH) - The trial of three genocide suspects linked to crimes in the Cyangugu region of southwest Rwanda resumed Monday as a sixth prosecution witness began testifying, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. Witness LAJ, a retired military man, said he was called by the Cyangugu authorities to help with public defence after the downing of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana's plane on April 6th, 1994.

2 minApproximate reading time

He said he saw one of the accused, former Cyangugu military leader Samuel Imanishimwe, personally shoot an army officer in the head, as an example of how "accomplices", whether Hutu or Tutsi, should be dealt with. Accomplices were generally understood to mean those sympathetic to the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which attacked Rwanda from Uganda in 1990. The witness told the court that Cyangugu local authorities called all men over 15 to roadblocks and night patrols to ensure security after April 7th. At first, he said, there was no violence. On April 10th, he received a message that he should go and see regional militia leader Yussuf Munyakazi. Imanishimwe, the head of Cyangugu barracks, also came to see Munyakazi when the witness was there. Witness LAJ said Munyakazi and Imanishimwe held a discussion. He said they then took him to where a soldier described as an accomplice was being held. The soldier was stripped naked and made to remove even his boots. "He [Imanishimwe] told him to stand to attention," LAJ told the court, "and then shot three bullets into his head. "Imanishimwe is being tried jointly with former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura. The three are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution says that more than 100,000 Tutsis were massacred in Cyangugu prefecture in the space of 23 days. Ntagerura, Bagambiki and Imanishimwe are accused of planning, inciting, ordering and facilitating these massacres. They are also charged in connection with the acts of their subordinates. All three accused have pleaded not-guilty. The trial opened on September 18th this year. Witnesses for the prosecution have described massacres of Tutsis at various different sites in Cyangugu, notably the Gashirabwoba football field and the church of Mibilizi. Defence difficulties :As the court hearing opened, Bagambiki's Belgian defence lawyer Vincent Lurquin urged the judges to help him reinstate his defence assistant. The prosecution had earlier asked the court to disqualify the assistant because he had served as a legal intern (trainee) in ICTR prosecution. The court dismissed the prosecution motion but said it was up to the Registry to deal with assignment of counsel. The assistant was subsequently dismissed by the Registry. The judges on Monday said they would discuss the issue amongst themselves and deliver a decision later. This trial is being heard by trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judges Lloyd Williams of Jamaica (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Ntagerura's Candian defence lawyer Henry Benoît also asked the court to intervene in order for the Registry to assign him a co-counsel. Former lead counsel Fakhy Konate of Côte d'Ivoire announced at the start of trial that he was withdrawing at the request of his client. SW/JC/FH (CY%1023e)