Arusha, November 21, 2001 (FH) - The genocide trial of three ex-leaders from Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda, was on Wednesday adjourned to March 4th before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), as prosecution closed its case. The trial had been expected to resume on Monday, with the testimonies of two expert witnesses: former Rwandan prosecutor François-Xavier Nsanzuwera and Dr Gaston Lubambo, a sociologist from the Democratic Republic Congo.

1 min 45Approximate reading time

However, prosecution moved a motion to withdraw the two experts, saying previous witness testimony had made it "unnecessary" to call them. On Wednesday, the court ruled that the expert witnesses "are not properly on the witness list and therefore cannot be removed". This means prosecution will not call the two witnesses, despite objection from one defence team. The trial groups former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Transport Minister André Ntagerura and former Cyangugu military barracks 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 1994 genocide. Defence teams for the accused had said they did not object to Dr Lubambo being withdrawn, provided a report he had submitted to the court was also withdrawn. But Bagambiki's defence team objected to Nsanzuwera not testifying. Witness for the defence?Bagambiki's Belgian counsel Vincent Lurquin says there were issues he did not pursue because he intended to cross-question Nsanzuwera. Lurquin said he had wanted to question Nsanzuwera "to establish the truth" about the 1992 massacres of Tutsis in Bugesera, Kigali-rural prefecture in central Rwanda. At the time, his client was prefect of Kigali-rural. Lurquin said expert witness and French sociologist André Guichaoua, who testified in the Cyangugu case, focussed on Bagambiki's alleged responsibility in the Bugesera massacres, saying that the accused had failed to act. But Lurquin says Nsanzuwera, testifying in another ICTR trial ("Media"), appeared to contradict this when he said he (Nsanzuwera, who was then Kigali Prosecutor) and some authorities acted immediately to stop the killing. Lurquin said he had wanted to pursue this apparent contradiction during cross-questioning of Guichaoua, but the court had told him he would later be able to put the question directly to Nsanzuwera. "You have to ask yourself why prosecution wanted to withdraw Nsanzuwera," Lurquin told Hirondelle. "It certainly wasn't to save time, because we have all come here. " He said he was reserving the possibility of calling Nsanzuwera as a defence witness. This case 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. The Cyangugu case is "twin-tracking" before Trial Chamber Three with the case of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza. That case is expected to resume next week. SW/JC/PHD/FH (CY1121E)