Arusha, July 11, 2002 (FH) - The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) distributed weapons to young civilians during the fighting in 1994, a witness in the trial ofthree people accused of genocide crimes in Cyangugu (southwest Rwanda) told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. Antoine Nyetera, a Tutsi of Royal descent was testifying for André Ntagerura, one of the three accused.

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Ntagerura a former minister for Transport andCommunications 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 during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. Nyetera was led in evidence by Ntagerura's co-counsel Hamuli Rety of France and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nyetera told the court that young people with no uniform were armed by the RPF and therefore they could be considered as militants. "I saw and heard this," he told the court. In his testimony, Nyetera maintained that Ntagerura was innocent and "was being charged with a non-existent conspiracy charge. " He rejected a suggestion by the prosecution that he was testifying for Ntagerura because he felt indebted to him and said he was doing it out of his moral obligation to "fight for justice". In his testimony Nyetera gave details on various traditional dances and the origin of the identity cards in Rwanda, which he attributed to Belgian colonialists. Nyetera disagreed with evidence by prosecution witnesses that a song by the Interahamwe (militia) including the Kinyarwandan word tubatsembatsembe - let us eliminate them - was sung while militia were committing massacres. Nyetera told the court that the word (tubatsembatsembe) could not be used in isolation, because otherwise it had a different meaning. He said the country's army sang the song often to boost their morale. During cross-questioning by prosecution lawyers he said that the political youth groups were formed to respond to aggressors from other political parties and that this included the Interahamwe. He also said that roadblocks were set up as a means of control and that some Hutus died here as well. Prosecution witnesses had testified that Tutsis were selected at roadblocks and killed. Nyetera also denied that he had changed his ethnic group in 1963 in order to qualify for a scholarship to France, as suggested by the prosecution. "There were other Tutsis studying at the same time with me and they didn't have to change their names," he responded. He completed his testimony on Thursday afternoon. After his testimony, the Chamber stated that no arrangements should be made regarding a protected witness "K1H" until it delivers a decision on the request by Ntagerura's defence to allow the testimony "K1H" to be heard out of court. Apart from K1H, an expert witness, Lucien Hounkpatin of Benin and France is expected to testify before Ntagerura himself , who is listed as the last witness. The trial resumes on Monday 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/JA/DO/FH (CY-0711e)