Arusha, May 16, 2001 (FH) - A third consecutive prosecution witness on Wednesday testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) about the exhumation of victims killed in the 1994 genocide in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda. The witness was appearing in a case against three former leaders from that region, on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

1 min 30Approximate reading time

The prosecution witness, dubbed "LCD" to protect his identity, said that he witnessed the exhumation of his father's body on April 28th last year and the reburial thereafter. His father was among 16 victims who were allegedly removed from a stadium in Cyangugu and killed on the orders of former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. Bagambiki is on trial with former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura who comes from Cyangugu. All three have pleaded not-guilty to the charges against them. Witness LCD said that he identified the body of his father, and that "it had no heart, kidneys or sexual organs". The court heard that 17 bodies were retrieved from a mass grave previously used as a pit latrine and that 16 were identified as the people taken from Kamarampaka stadium in April 1994. One body was not identified. Two 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. LCD told the court that before the 17 bodies were retrieved, some others, which were more decomposed were removed from the same grave. "One of those bodies had handcuffs," he said during cross-examination. LCD added that the 17 bodies were washed by family members and taken to Karangiro for reburial. Witnesses LCD and LCC, who testified on Tuesday, gave most of their testimony in closed session. LCC said he identified the body of his male relative (name withheld) from a shirt that he saw him wearing the last time on April 8th 1994. He told the court that relatives of the deceased had to use water and soap to clean dirt and clay away from the corpses in order to see the colours of their clothes distinctly. "You would understand that they were stinking, but we had to pay tribute," he said. The hearing continues before Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/JC/MBR/FH (CY0516e)