Arusha, July 23, 2002 (FH) - The interim government in Rwanda in 1994, tried to maintain peace and order in the country during the events following the death of former President Juvénal Habyarimana, former minister and genocide suspect André Ntagerura told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Tuesday. Ntagerura, who started testifying in his own defence on July 17th, said that the interim government inaugurated on April 9th, 1994 called a meeting for all prefects together with the council of ministers to make arrangements for peace and security measures.

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He added that the council of ministers called upon the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to cease hostilities. He disagreed with the testimony of an expert prosecution witness sociologist André Gichauoa that local authorities encouraged the violence that followed President Habyarimana's death on April 6th, 1994. The former minister is in a joint trial with ex- commander of the Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. Prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu, southwest of Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. Ntagerura told the court that former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda (sentenced to life imprisonment by this Tribunal) made a speech to the meeting by the council of ministers and reminded the prefects that maintaining security was a commitment for everybody not just the government. According to Ntagerura, Kambanda urged the people to distinguish that when they talk of the enemy it was the RPF not their neighbours. Ntagerura denied that Kambanda addressed a crisis meeting in May whereby the agenda was the elimination of "leaders from the south" referring to some Tutsis leaders. "This assertion is not correct," Ntagerura said. He said he attended the meeting in May and such an item (on elimination) was never on the agenda. He told the court that there could have been confusion between this and another meeting that was held even before the Kambanda interim government was inaugurated. Ntagerura said that the earlier crisis meeting comprised soldiers and that even they stated clearly that the President's plane had been shot down by people who had not been identified. The ex-minister told the court that on April 15th, 1994, the then Minister Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation prepared a diplomatic note that emphasised that the perpetrators of the attack (on the President's plane) were not yet known and that investigations were underway. "The Kambanda government and the crisis meeting he chaired never said it was the Tutsis who shot down the plane," Ntagerura said. Ntagerura who is being questioned in his chief evidence by his lead counsel Canadian, Benoit Henry, denied that he used an aircraft belonging to Air Rwanda to go to Cyangugu during the 1994 events. He said that Air Rwanda did not have any aircraft functioning at the time and that aircraft was grounded here in Tanzania. During his testimony, the former minister told the court of government missions, he attended including meetings for peace negotiations with the RPF in Tanzania, and other missions in other countries between April and June 1994. He continues his testimony on Wednesday before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/DO/FH (CY-0723e)