Arusha, September 21, 2001 (FH) - Genocide suspect and former commander of Cyangugu military barracks Samuel Imanishimwe was so powerful that he appeared to be giving orders "at all times" during the 1994 Rwanda massacres, an expert witness for the prosecution told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday. French sociology professor André Guichaoua told the court that Imanishiwe was known to have organised a number of massacres in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda in 1994.

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The witness was testifying for the third day in the so-called Cyangugu trial, which groups Imanishimwe, former Transport Minister André Ntagerura and former prefect Emmanuel BagambikiAll have pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the genocide. Guichaoua told the court Imanishimwe had said he had the approval of prefect Bagambiki "to launch work". The term work was used to mean killing of Tutsis during the genocide. The witness said prefect Bagambiki was referred to as the "dog of Imanishimwe", apologising for having to use such a term in court. In cross-examination, Imanishimwe's lead defence counsel Marie-Louise Mbida of Cameroon maintained that Guichaoua was jumping to conclusions and that some of his statements were exaggerated and unfounded. But the witness maintained his position. "These are facts, not unfounded statements," Guichaoua said. Guichaoua gave the example of an incident in Bugarama (Cyangugu) where soldiers in the company of Imanishimwe surrounded a factory as people were killed inside. He said the soldiers prevented people from going in to assist the victims, only allowing Interahamwe militia to enter. Guichaoua said that thanks to family connections and ties with the military in Ruhengeri, northwest Rwanda (stronghold of the then-regime), Imanishimwe had powers surpassing his actual rank and seniority in the military. He also said he believed that Imanishimwe enjoyed confidence at the government level. During cross-examination, Mbida referred to a gendarme, Lieutenant Colonel Bavugamenshi, whom Guichaoua had said was opposed to the massacres but asked to be transferred to Cyangugu. She asked the witness to explain this apparent contradiction, if Imanishimwe was so powerful. Guichaoua responded that as a native of Cyangugu, Bavugamenshi had family and military ties in the region. Guichaoua also told the court that Imanishimwe had the means to leave Cyangugu if he had wanted to. Defence counsel maintained that there was a death penalty for deserting soldiers. But Guichaoua said others had deserted and were still alive. The hearing continues on Monday, 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. The chamber sat exceptionally on Friday to try to ensure that Guichaoua completes his testimony on Monday. The 40th witness, a self confessed militiaman detained in Rwanda for involvement in the genocide, is expected to resume his unfinished testimony on Tuesday. His testimony was postponed to accommodate the expert witness. SW/JC/PHD/FH (CY0921E)