Arusha, March 1st, 2001 (FH) - The trial of three former Rwandan leaders charged with genocide adjourned on Thursday until May 2nd at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)The Cyangugu trial groups former transport minister André Ntagerura, former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe, who was commander of the army barracks in the prefecture. The three are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.

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They have pleaded not guilty. The adjournment will make way for the hearing of another case before the same Chamber. The case of former mayor of Bicumbi (central Rwanda) Laurent Semanza will resume on March 6th. The Cyangugu trial adjourned after the 26th prosecution witness had testified before Trial Chamber Three, composed of Judges Lloyd Williams of Jamaica (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. The witness, going by the name "LAW" to protect her identity, said that attacks against Tutsis in Gisuma started soon after the death of the former President Juvénal Habyarimana was announced on April 7th 1994. LAW told the court that her husband and three-year-old child were killed during an attack by Interahamwe Hutu militia in Gisuma commune, Cyangugu, in April 1994. She added that she fled and hid in the bush for a week. The witness said that the number of refugees fleeing Gisuma increased as they met others on the way and there were eventually about 400 to 500 of them in the neighboring commune of Kamembe. Prior to LAW, the court heard the testimony in closed session of the 25th prosecution witness, dubbed "LY" to protect his identity. LY started his testimony last week and was heard entirely in camera. The prosecution said witness "AQ" would be the next to testify when the case resumes on May 2nd. The Chamber also stressed that suspects who "drop their counsel midstream" will not be allowed to frustrate proceedings. "The issue of losing confidence in one’s counsel is nebulous," Judge Williams said. Bagambiki has asked to change his co-counsel, Luc Butin of Canada, but the Chamber ruled that he would remain committed to his duties until the matter is resolved following the proper procedure, when the trial resumes. Procedure requires that any such request should come from the lead counsel. SW/JC/FH (CY_0301e)