Arusha, January 30, 2001(FH) - A survivor of the 1994 Rwanda genocide told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday, that he swam across Lake Kivu to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo fleeing attacks in the Cyangugu region, south west Rwanda. The 18th prosecution witness called "LI" to protect his identity said that he and other Tutsis who had taken refuge at the Cathedral in Cyangugu were sought by gendarmes and soldiers.

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The Cyangugu trial groups former Transport Minister André Ntagerura, former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki, and the ex-commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe. They are jointly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. According to LI, he went from his Kamembe commune to a Jesuit Centre at the Cyangugu Cathedral where the fleeing Tutsis took refuge. "Attackers surrounded us, some escaped while some were apprehended by soldiers," he said. LI told the court that the soldiers made the refugees lie face down in the mud while beating them with the butts of their guns and kicking them with their boots. Those arrested were taken to the Karambo military camp in Cyangugu on April 11th, 1994, LI said. He added that in this camp, the soldiers informed a commander that the captives were "inkotanyi inyenzi" (referring to the Tutsi). The witness said that he later learned the name of the commander was Imanishimwe. "We were introduced to a commander. Personally I did not know him but the people who were with me knew him," the witness told the court. LI said seven of them were arrested at the Jesuit Centre in Cyangugu Chapel, including his older brother. LI told the court that the commander told the soldiers "to take care of them" (the captives) and they proceeded to beat them with sticks and small metal clubs. "They told us they would beat us to death and locked us in a room", the witness said. Witness LI said that he and another captive tried to escape from the military camp on realising they would die from the beatings. He described how he ran while being fired at, got to an embankment and jumped into the lake. He told the court that as he swam he could hear the sound of gunshots but no bullets hit him, so he continued on and eventually found himself at a centre called Amani in the Democratic Republic of Congo. SW/JC/FH (CY_0130e)