Arusha, May 29, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwandan Minister for Justice Charles Nkurunziza on Wednesday reiterated before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the 1994 killings in Rwanda were not an ethnic or tribal issue but a power struggle. He completed his testimony in the Cyangugu trial, which was adjourned to July.

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This trial groups former Transport Minister André Ntagerura, former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former commander of the Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe. Prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. Nkurunziza testified for two days, as the twenty-seventh defence witness for Ntagerura. In his testimony Nkurunziza said that what happened in Rwanda "was a war over power". He said that Rwandan citizens were caught in crossfire between the government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in a war started by the latter. "The massacres that bloodied the countryside were done by the RPF," said Nkurunziza. In response to questions by the prosecution, the witness said he never heard of the Rwandan Armed Forces killing anyone. Nkurunziza also said he never witnessed situations where Interahamwe (militia) killed people during the massacres and that he was not aware they killed Tutsis in particular. According to the witness roadblocks were mounted because the country was at war and not to search and kill Tutsis. Prosecution witnesses have testified that roadblocks were erected and people asked to produce identification so that Tutsis were selected and killed. Prosecutor Richard Karegyesa asked the witness if Ntagerura and other government officials had visited Cyangugu mid May , 1994 to which he replied in the affirmative. The court also heard that the President Theodore Sindikubwabo, Ntagerura and others addressed the public. Nkurunziza said the aim of the speakers was to pacify the people. But prosecution maintained that the message was that the people must be more discreet in the killing of the enemy meaning Tutsis and their accomplices. The prosecutor also put it to the witness that a mayor of Muhura commune one Muramutsa was killed by the Rwandan Armed Forces for resisting massacres of civilians. However Nkurunziza stated that he did not know of any killings by the Rwandan Armed Forces. The witness was also cross-questioned about a radio chat show in Radio-Television des Milles Collines (RTLM) on December 12, 1993 in which he appeared with one Gaspard Gahigi and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza (currently on trial at the Tribunal). Nkurunziza served in the Ministry of Justice as minister (1977-84) and as Secretary General to the cabinet (1992-1994). He said he fled the country with his wife, mother and six children on July 19th, 1994. At the end of the testimony, Ntagerura's defence informed the court of the schedule of the next witnesses who will be heard at the beginning of July. Ntagerura is expected to testify as the last factual witness, after the testimony of four experts and four factual witnesses. His defence anticipates completing its case during the next trial session, according to lead counsel Benoit Henry of Canada. The trial 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-0529e)