Arusha, July 18, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwandan Minister André Ntagerura on trial for genocide crimes in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda on Thursday denied accusations levelled against him by prosecution witnesses before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on the second day of testifying in his own defence. Ntagerura is in a joint trial with ex- commander of the Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki.

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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. The accused who was a former Minister of Transport and Communications in the interim government of 1994 held various ministerial portfolios in Rwanda between 1981 and 1994. He is testifying in his defence as the thirty-third witness and is being led in his chief evidence by his lead counsel Canadian, Benoit Henry. Henry went through the accusations levelled against his client by defence witnesses asking Ntagerura to elaborate to the court on each of them. According to one prosecution witness "LAJ" prior to the start of the 1994 massacres Ntagerura allegedly stated that the "enemy was the Tutsi". LAJ also said Ntagerura called on the Hutu population to be vigilant because the situation was becoming more and more serious. The accused reportedly made the statement on January 28th, 1994 during a meeting with Interahamwe (militia) who were youth wingers of the political party MRND. The meeting was held at a football field at Bugarama in Cyangugu where Ntagerura was said to be have been accompanied by General Gratien Kabiligi. Kabiligi is also in the custody of the Tribunal and who testified as a defence witness for Ntagerura in March this year. The prosecution witness said that the two arrived in Bugarama commune aboard a helicopter to distribute arms to Interahamwe. In his testimony Kabiligi said at the time in question he was out of the country on mission and not with Ntagerura in Cyangugu. In his testimony, Ntagerura said that he was in a function in Kigali. Ntagerura told the court that the two times he went to Cyangugu by helicopter were in November 1993 in the company of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and in March 1994 during the inauguration of a cement factory, CIMERWA. In his testimony, Ntagerura's lawyer also questioned him on the operations of the public transport buses ONATRACOM, which some prosecution witnesses said he had allowed to ferry Interahamwe during the killings in 1994. Ntagerura is said to have allowed or authorised the use of government vehicles, specifically buses for the transportation of [Interahamwe] militia, as well as for the transportation of arms and ammunitions to Cyangugu prefecture. He told the court that most of the vehicles stayed in Kigali and that during the events in 1994, people appropriated the vehicles to themselves. Ntagerura will continue with his testimony on Monday. The ex-minister, who was born in 1952 in Karengera commune in Cyangugu prefecture, is married with three children. His wife Bongwa Lioncie testified in his case in May this year. He was arrested in Cameroon in 1996 and transferred to Arusha in 1997. The hearing is 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/FH (CY-0718e)