Arusha, March 25, 2002 (FH) - Former military officer and genocide suspect General Gratien Kabiligi, on Monday testified in the case of former Rwandan Minister André Ntagerura, also on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Kabiligi told the court that he was not in Cyangugu with Ntagerura in January 1994, contrary to testimony by prosecution witnesses.

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Two protected prosecution witnesses dubbed "LAI" and "LAP" testified last September that on January 28th, 1994, prior to the massacres in April, Ntagerura arrived in Bugarama commune in Cyangugu, aboard a helicopter to distribute arms to Interahamwe (militia) and that he was accompanied by General Kabiligi. Prosecution witnesses have also testified that General Kabiligi was at Bigwogwe camp in Cyangugu with Ntagerura on the same day, distributing weapons. But on Monday Kabiligi stated: "Absolutely not, January 28th, 1994 I was in Egypt". Kabiligi told the court that he was on a government mission in Cairo, Egypt from January 27th to February 8th, 1994. He was responding to questions by Ntagerura's defence lawyer Canadian, Benoit Henry. The Cyangugu trial groups Ntagerura, former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former commander of the Military barracks in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe. Prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu (south west Rwanda) during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. General Kabiligi, the fourteenth defence witness for Ntagerura, told the court that he was chief of a department in the Rwandan armed forces, in charge of training, organisation and operations. He also said that his visit to Egypt involved discussing issues on military cooperation between Rwanda and Egypt, including short-term scholarships for training of junior officers. The ex-military officer said that his mission order was signed by approved by the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the country's Prime Minister. General Kabiligi said he wrote a report after his mission, on February 12th, 1994 and that "like all mission reports" it was addressed to the head of state. General Kabiligi said he had a copy of the covering letter as well as the report he wrote after his mission, which he informed the court, he got from the prosecution. Ntagerura's defence submitted these documents as exhibits. General Kabiligi is detained at the ICTR United Nations detention facility awaiting the start of his trial. He is co-accused in the so-called "Military Trial" with former chief of cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence, Col. Theoneste Bagosora, and two other senior military officers, Lt. Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva and Major Aloys Ntabakuze. Lawyer Jean Degli of Togo and France, represents General Kabiligi. Degli was present when Kabiligi testified and made some interventions, referring to his client's rights. Prosecutor Richard Karegyesa of Uganda asked General Kabiligi, in cross-examination a question on the issue of the alleged delivery of weapons by himself and Ntagerura in 1994. The question was strongly objected by Ntagerura's defence, prompting a lengthy debate. Ntagerura's defence maintained that prosecution was asking questions not arising from General Kabiligi's testimony. The issue of contention was regarding date of January 28th, 1994. Prosecution told the court that it intended to bring evidence that will cast doubt as to whether General Kabiligi, was in Egypt, as he had testified in court. "The document (Kabiligi's report) is not fait accompli," said Karegyesa. But Henry expressed surprise that the prosecution was casting doubt on the report yet they had given it to General Kabiligi. The hearing proceeds in the afternoon 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 (TR-0325e)