Arusha, February 22nd, 2001 (FH) - A survivor of the 1994 Rwanda genocide told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday that he escaped death by bribing a gendarme who allowed him out of a stadium in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda. The 24th prosecution witness dubbed “NL” to protect his identity, was testifying in the so-called Cyangugu trial which groups former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, Samuel Imanishimwe, who was commander of the army barracks in the prefecture, and former Transport Minister AndréNtagerura.

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They have pleaded not guilty to genocide and crimes against humanity. NL told the court that in April 1994, Tutsis and moderate Hutus seeking refuge at the Cyangugu Cathedral were taken by Bagambiki and the Cyangugu Bishop to the Kamarampaka stadium and shut in. According to NL, on April 16th Bagambiki came to the stadium and read out a list of names including that of the witness. He added that he did not answer, but 16 of those who did were taken away by soldiers and later killed. NL said that he offered 30,000 Rwandan francs to one of the gendarmes guarding the stadium to let him go. "Since more lives could be saved with that amount, I asked him to let me go with two other people", the witness said. NL told the court that they left on the morning of April 18th and headed for Bukavu in former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). In his testimony, NL said that the bodies of the 16 victims from Kamarampaka stadium were exhumed and reburied in April 2000, after someone who witnessed their disposal in 1994 identified a pit in which they had been buried. In the same court, the 25th prosecution witness identified as "LY" to protect his identification, started his testimony on Thursday in a closed session. Prosecution had made an oral application for the witness to be heard in camera as a measure to protect his identity. The hearing continues before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judges Lloyd Williams of Jamaica (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/FH (CY_0222e)