Arusha, January 22nd, 2001 (FH) At least 4,500 refugees who had sought refuge in the Shangi Parish, south west Rwanda were killed during the 1994 genocide and villagers told to bury them in mass graves, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Monday. The 15th prosecution witness LAK told the court that he saw the bodies during and after attacks against the Shangi Parish where Tutsis had fled.

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He was testifying in cross-examination during the hearing of the so-called Cyangugu trial. The 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. Prosecutors say the three accused acted together to try to eliminate the Tutsi population, notably in the Cyangugu region. According to the prosecution, more than 100,000 Tutsis were slaughtered in Cyangugu in the space of 23 days. According to witness LAK attackers gathered at road-blocks where they killed some Tutsis. The attackers comprising Interahamwe [militia], gendarmes and civilians then "climbed towards Shangi Parish for the main attacks". There were attacks against the Parish on the 13th, 15th, 19th, 23rd and 30th of April, he added. LAK said the local people "were ordered [by the local leaders] to cover themselves with twigs to distinguish them from the Tutsis". The defence questioned how he survived all these attacks despite being a Tutsi, to which he replied that he was protected by a powerful Hutu neighbour "whose orders were not questioned". The defence maintained that there were many contradictions between LAK’s written statement to the Tribunal investigators and his oral submissions in court. 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_0122e)