Arusha, 30 October 2002 (FH) - A defence witness in the trial of the former commandant of the military camp of Karambo in Cyangugu (south west Rwanda), lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe, asserted that civilians were not taken there on 7 April 1994, during his evidence on Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The prosecutor alleges that Imanishimwe was responsible for the massacres of Tutsis at Karambo military camp in April 1994.

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The defence contends that there were never any arrests, torture or executions of civilians in the camp while their client was in charge between April and July 1994. “I did not see my colleagues leading civilians to the military camp [of Karambo] the day after the death of the president Juvénal Habyarimana,” the 17th defence witness known as ‘PCD’ to protect his identity, replied to a question from the defence. The killing of the Rwandan president, which took place on 6th April 1994, set off the anti-Tutsi genocide and the massacres of opponents in which a million people died, according to a recent report by the Kigali government. As a junior military officer of Imanishimwe during these events, ‘PCD’ declared that he was at the roadblocks which led to Karambo camp, for around two weeks, “from 7 April to 19 April”. In reply to another question from Marie-Louise Mbida, the Cameroonian lawyer for the accused, ‘PCD’ reaffirmed that he was not aware of any civilians taken to the camp by his colleagues during his time guarding the roadblocks. The indictment emphasises that “on or around 11th April 1994, Tutsis refugees were arrested and taken to the military camp at Cyangugu in front of lieutenant Imanishimwe who ordered their execution”. Many defence witnesses who gave evidence earlier have challenged the prosecutor’s argument. On Tuesday at the end of the afternoon, the deputy prosecutor Richard Karegyesa continued his interrogation of PCD behind closed doors. On Monday, Imanishimwe’s defence team brought witness ‘PCJ’ to testify, while ‘PCD’ was preceded by ‘PCC’ on Tuesday during the morning. The latter was heard almost entirely behind closed doors. Imanishimwe is jointly accused with the former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki, and the former minister of transport and communication under the interim government André Ntagerura. They are accused of massacres of Tutsis in the region between April and July 1994. They have pleaded not guilty. The trial of the Cyangugu group is being heard by Trial Chamber 3 of the ICTR with judges George Lloyd Williams of Saint Kitts and Nevis (presiding), and Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GA/CE/JA/FH (GA-1030e)