Arusha, September 17, 2001 (FH) - Two genocide suspects and former leaders in Cyangugu (southwest Rwanda) allegedly called for the elimination of Tutsis in the region during the 1994 massacres, a prosecution witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. The 40th prosecution witness, dubbed "LAI" to protect his identity, also told the court that the two, former Transport Minister André Ntagerura and former prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, distributed arms for use during the massacres.

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"It was a period of war and we were fighting our enemies the Tutsis and their accomplices," the witness said. The trial groups Ntagerura, Bagambiki and former Cyangugu military commander Samuel Imanishimwe. All 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. LAI, a Hutu, has confessed to participating in the genocide and is detained in Rwanda. He told the court he was a former member of the Interahamwe militia and also a member of the former presidential party MRND. He was testifying during examination in chief by prosecutor Andra Mobberley of New Zealand. LAI told the court that he worked under a militia leader, Yusuf Munyakazi (who has been indicted by the Tribunal but is still on the run). LAI told the court that Munyakazi took orders directly from André Ntagerura and Emmanuel Bagambiki. The witness said that in January 1994 Bagambiki, Ntagerura and three other people delivered weapons to Bugarama using a helicopter. LAI added that Munyakazi received the weapons, which he distributed to the Interahamwe. The witness said that during a meeting in Ituzi Hotel, Cyangugu town, Bagambiki stated: "If the people of Cyangugu were like the people of Bugesera, everything would be solved without difficulty. "LAI told the court that in Bugesera (where Bagambiki was once prefect), Tutsis had been massacred (in 1992). He told the court that in Bugarama, Bagambiki went to a certain location to "inaugurate the killings" because the local population were reluctant to kill Tutsis. "Bagambiki came to inaugurate the killings and to stop soldiers preventing the Interahamwe from doing their work," said LAI. LAI said Imanishimwe had accompanied Bagambiki. According to the witness, Imanishiwe's "was a different approach: He called for a Tutsi soldier and shot him in cold blood. He added that whoever was going to stop the Interahamwe from doing their work would die like the soldier. "LAI said that Imanishimwe ordered him and other militia to throw the body into the Rusizi River because it was the "shortest route to get to Arusha for the peace negotiations". The 1992-93 peace talks for Rwanda were held in Arusha. The witness told the court that he later transported many Tutsi corpses that were also thrown into this river. The hearing continues Tuesday morning 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. SW/JC/PHD/FH (CY0917e)