Arusha, June 6, 2001 (FH) Proceedings in the so-called Cyangugu Trial of three genocide suspects became tense on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), as prosecution alleged that a second defence investigator in the case had links to one of the accused. The 38th prosecution witness, dubbed "MF" to protect his identity, told the court that a former director-general of the Rwandan Transport Ministry had "links" in 1994 with ex-Transport André Ntagerura, one of the accused in the case.

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The former director-general, it unfolded in court, is Ntagerura's current defence investigator Habyarimana Malien. Habyarimana's name cropped up amidst fierce objection by the defence, as prosecutor Richard Karegyesa of Uganda asked witness MF about the then government-run ONATRACOM buses in Rwanda. MF told the court that after the war in 1994, he was informed by drivers who went to fetch ONTRACOM buses in Zaire (now DRC) that a "team" of former Rwandan officials including Habyarimana (Malien) had sold some of those public buses across the border. He volunteered further information but was cut off by defence objections. Prosecution went ahead to state that there were "elements indicated between the said person and Ntagerura". However, Ntagerura's French lawyer Benoit Henri stood in objection, almost in unison with his co-counsel. "Where is the relevance of this apart from sabotaging the defence strategy?" the lawyer protested. "I am asking myself what is the honesty of these manoeuvres by the prosecution," said Henri, while French co-counsel Hamuli Rety said: "The issues being raised by this line of questioning arevery serious. "At this point, the Chamber intervened to say that the prosecution's line of questioning was not appropriate. "You have means at your disposal to deal with these matters," said the court. The prosecution then said that there might be possible breach of a witness protection order "because the said defence investigator appeared to have been stalking Witness MF on Sunday June 3rd". But the Chamber halted further debate on the issue. "If you had some complaint, you should have raised it in court. Don't go about it in a round about manner," the court told prosecution. The Chamber said it would not take account of the proceedings mentioning the investigator because the issue had been raised in an "improper manner". Ntagerura is being tried jointly with former Cyangugu military commander Samuel Imanishimwe and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. The three are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. Siméon Nshamihigo, defence investigator for the accused Imanishimwe, was arrested on May 19th at the request of the ICTR Prosecutor. He is under investigation for involvement in the genocide, and currently in ICTR provisional detention. The Cyangugu case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of judges Lloyd Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Judge Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Judge Ostrovsky has been absent from court since Monday, with informed sources saying this was for health reasons. Meanwhile, Bagambiki on Wednesday refused to appear in court after the Chamber ruled that he would not be allowed to ask witnesses questions. He had previously been granted the right to cross-question a witness as an "exceptional measure". The court instructed the ICTR Registry to write to Bagambiki, informing him of his right to come to court, but said it would not halt proceedings. "In an international Tribunal, we do not find it upon us to use coercion to get the accused to come to court," said Judge Williams. SW/JC/MBR/FH (CY0606e)