Arusha, May 17, 2001 (FH) - Attackers who killed fleeing refugees in Cyangugu, southwest of Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide, spread news that they had "eaten" the hearts of their victims, a witness testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. The 33rd prosecution witness, dubbed "LCE" to protect her identity, told the court that her husband was killed in April 1994 in Cyangugu.

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His body was exhumed from a mass grave in April last year, and "it no longer had a heart," LCE said. "It was said that the killers had removed the victims' hearts and eaten them so that they couldn't be punished because of the blood spilled and if the victims ever resurrected they would have no hearts," she continued. LCE is the fourth consecutive prosecution witness to testify in the so-called Cyangugu trial on the exhumation last year of genocide victims. The case groups former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura, who comes from Cyangugu. All three are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged role in massacres during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They have pleaded not guilty. LCE said her husband was one of 16 people who were removed from Kamarampaka stadium in Cyangugu in April 1994 on the orders of Bagambiki, and subsequently killed. According to LCE, her husband's body had machete and bullet wounds and his hands were twisted behind his back. The bodies of the 16 victims were exhumed on April 28th last year from the mass grave which had previously been used as a pit latrine. They were reburied in May 2000 in Cyimbogo commune in Cyangugu after relatives identified them. A 17th body was not identified. During cross-questioning, Imanishimwe's defence counsel Marie-Louise Mbinda of Cameroon questioned how LCE could tell that the deceased's body had no heart. The witness answered: "I knew personally that my husband's body had no heart". . On Wednesday, the 32nd prosecution witness LCD said he identified the body of his father which was retrieved from the same mass grave and that "it had no heart, kidneys or sexual organs". Two other witnesses, LCA and LCC who testified earlier, said that the bodies could be identified because they were not completely decomposed and some of the clothing on them could be recognized. All four witnesses said that the bodies were washed and dressed in new clothes before reburial in May 2000. French defence counsel Hamuli Rety for Ntagerura sought to know if any official authority certified the deaths. In response, LCE said that the family members and relatives identified the bodies and the local bourgmestre (mayor) had already "initially" certified their deaths. The case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Proceedings were adjourned until next Monday, when another witness will testify. SW/JC/PHD/FH (CY0517E)