Arusha, October 9th, 2000 (FH) – Former Rwandan mayor Emmanuel Bagambiki promised protection for Tutsi refugees prior to their slaughter in a football field, a prosecution witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. The witness was appearing as the ICTR resumed its trial of three suspects accused of committing genocide in the Cyangugu region of southwest Rwanda in 1994.

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They are Bagambiki, who was prefect of Cyangugu, Andre Ntagerura, former Minister of Transport in the interim government that presided overthe genocide, and Samuel Imanishimwe, who was commander of the Cyangugu military barracks. The third prosecution witness, dubbed LAC to protect his identity, said he was a survivor of the April 12th, 1994 massacre at Gashirabwoba football field in Gisuma commune, Cyangugu prefecture. He told the court that on the morning of April 12th, Bagambiki and the director of the Shagasha teafactory had addressed the three thousand refugees gathered in the field and that “Bagambiki said soldiers would be sent to guard us”. Witness LAC said the former prefect and factory director then left, but that the refugees stayed, hoping the soldiers would come to protect them. They weresubsequently massacred. On the day of the attack, LAC said soldiers approached the refugees. There were some in a small bus and reserve soldiers who used to guard the tea factory, all armed with guns, the witness added. "They asked who wants peace," he told the court, and "when we raised our hands saying we want peace, they threw grenades at us then shot at us”. The witness said that the day before, on April 11th, three pickups of soldiers had come to the field with Bagambiki and Imanishimwe. They were looking for two traders and left with one of them, named Simugomwa. The witness said that a year later, he and other survivors retrieved the remains of Simugomwa , who was killed, and reburied him. "I was able to recognise the clothes he was wearing when he was taken away," he said. However, on cross-examination by Ntagerura’s Canadian defence lawyer Henry Benoit, the witness said he was not present during the exhumation of the deceased. Benoit also pointed out contradictions between LAC’s written testimony and his testimony before the court. The witness claimed these weredue to transcription errors by the prosecution investigator who had taken his statement. Asked to identify the three accused, LAC was able to do so for Bagambiki and Ntagerura. However, he was unable to identify Imanishimwe, saying he had only seen him once. Ntagerura, Bagambiki et Imanishimwe are accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. They 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. The trial opened on September 18th this year, but was suspended days later on 21st, after the testimonies of two prosecution investigators. The cross-examination is due to continue Tuesday morning. SW/JC/FH (CY%1009e)