Arusha, 2nd July, 2002 (FH) - The former Rwandan minister of information, Pascal Ndengejeho, gave evidence on Tuesday in support of the former minister for transport and communication in the interim government, André Ntagerura, in the 'Cyangugu' trial which groups together three people accused of genocide in the province of Cyangugu, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The 29th defence witness, Pascal Ndengejeho, stated that Ntagerura was not an influential minister of the former ruling party in Rwanda, the 'Mouvement républicain pour la démocratie et le développement' (MRND), as had been alleged by the prosecution.

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"Ntagerura was not influential, he was not paid a single franc more than me", the witnessed protested, adding that nevertheless the accused had more experience in government than many other ministers. Ntagerura was a minister for more than ten years. Ndengejeho was himself in the government between 1992 and 1993 and represented an opposition party, the 'Mouvement démocratique républicain' (MDR). The witness stated that Ntagerura had no animosity towards other ministers who were members of opposition parties. The prosecution alleges that Ntagerura had a visceral hatred towards political opponents and the Tutsi ethnic group, and was involved in the extermination of Tutsi's during the 1994 genocide. "I was surprised by this accusation", declared the witness, explaining that Ntagerura had many tutsi friends and even close relations, for example his mother in law. Pascal Ndengejeho made clear that the accused was his the brother in law. This is the second time that Pascal Ndengejeho has given evidence in front of the ICTR. The first time was in the trial of the former mayor of Bicumbi (Kigali rural province, central-east of Rwanda), Laurent Semanza, which is still being heard. Ntagerura is facing trial along with the former prefect of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki, and the former commandant of the military camp of Karambo in Cyangugu, lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. The three have pleased not guilty to accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial is taking place in front of Trial Chamber 3 of the ICTR comprising Judges George Llyod Williams of Saint-Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GA/AT/JA/DO/FH (CY-0702e)