Arusha, May, 10, 2001 (FH) - Genocide suspect Emmanuel Bagambiki personally cross-examined a prosecution witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. Bagambiki, who was prefect of the south Rwandan Cyangugu region during the 1994 genocide, was allowed to ask supplementary questions after his co-counsel Luc Boutin of Canada had cross-examined the witness.

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The court said last week that it might allow such a measure, given that Bagambiki has withdrawn confidence from Boutin and that the defendant's lead counsel, Vincent Lurquin of Belgium, is absent for medical reasons. Bagambiki is only the second defendant in the ICTR's history to conduct his own cross-examination of a witness, an event that attracted an unusually full public gallery. The first accused to do so was former mayor of Taba Jean-Paul Akayesu, who was convicted of genocide in 1997. Akayesu was allowed to conduct cross-examination of witnesses after he rejected defence counsel assigned to him by the ICTR. The accused remained calm and courteous as he put his questions. In particular, he asked protected witness "LC" to confirm a statement that he (Bagambiki) convened security meetings throughout the prefecture after April 6th, 1994. The witness confirmed this. Bagambiki referred to himself in the third person. "I wish you a safe return to your country, our country," Bagambiki told the witness after about one hour of cross-examination. Bagambiki is being jointly tried with two other suspects accused of genocide in the Cyangugu region of south-west Rwanda. They are former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe and former Transport Minister André Ntagerura. This trial is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judges Lloyd George Williams of St Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GG/PHD/FH (ME0510e)