Arusha, October 19, 2000 (FH) - The trial of former Rwandan mayor IgnaceBagilishema ended Thursday before the International Criminal Tribunal forRwanda (ICTR) with the detainee in tears as his lawyer made an impassionedplea for his release. The judges will now deliberate on the case beforepronouncing their verdict.

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"All the evidence and testimony that we have brought show that he did whathe could to save persecuted Tutsis, " Bagilishema's French lawyer FrançoisRoux told the court. Roux described his client as a man who had been " allalone in the torment " and that " a man who saves one life, saves the wholeof humanity ". Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza in Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda,during the genocide which left some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus deadbetween April and July 1994. He is charged with genocide and crimes againsthumanity. Prosecutors have urged the court to impose a life sentence, while thedefence has called for an acquittal. "Ignace Bagilishema will all his life regret that he was unable to savemore people, " lawyer Roux told the court. " Do you want to convict him forhaving been unable to stop the tidal wave of crime that was sweeping overMabanza? "Roux and his Mauritanian co-counsel have presented Bagilishema as a "goodmayor" who worked for the development of his commune and peacefulcoexistence between ethnic groups. " I am not a genocider, I am not a criminal, " Bagilishema told the courtwhen he was allowed to speak for himself at the end of the trial. Nigerian prosecutor Charles Adeogun-Philips maintained that from April12th, 1994, the accused did participate in the genocide. Philips said heshould be convicted as one of the main leaders of the massacres and assomeone who was responsible for the acts of his subordinates. Roux told the judges they had given the prosecution " every chance in thistrial. You are not responsible if they have shown their weakness " . Co-counsel Diabira said earlier that the prosecution should have withdrawnits case for lack of evidence. Bagilishema's trial began on October 28th, 1999 before Trial Chamber One ofthe ICTR. The Chamber is composed of Judges Eric Mose of Norway presiding,Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka and Mehmet Güney of Turkey. InNovember 1999, the judges went to Rwanda to inspect the sites linked to thecase. Bagilishema, 45, was arrested in South Africa in February 1999 andtransferred to the ICTR detention centre in Arusha. He was mayor of Mabanzafrom February 1980 to July 1994. Before that, he was a civil servant in theMinistry of Youth. AT/JC/FH (BS%1019F )