Arusha, March 22, 2002 (FH) - The defence of former Transport Minister in the interim Rwandan government, André Ntagerura, is to call General Gratien Kabiligi to testify in the Cyangugu trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ntagerura's lead counsel Canadian Benoît Henry stated that with the testimony of General Kabiligi, "the evidence brought by the prosecution would be reduced to ashes".

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The defence had filed an earlier motion, asking the court to allow General Kabiligi who is currently detained by the Tribunal to testify. Ntagerura is jointly charged with former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former commander of the Military barracks in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe, in the so-called Cyangugu Trial. 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. 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 aboard a helicopter to distribute arms to Interahamwe (militia) and that he was accompanied by General Kabiligi. Lawyer Henry told the court that "He couldn't have better prove," (than the General's testimony) adding that General Kabiligi would be accompanied by his counsel. The defence intends to prove that at the time of the facts alleged by the prosecution, Kabiligi was on mission out of the country. General Kabiligi is 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. Prosecutor Andra Mobberley of New Zealand sought that his lawyer not assist the witness, while giving his testimony saying the situation was "unusual". She said the question would arise as to the credibility of the witness, who is more over an accused. The prosecutor said the witness might divulge information that may be held against him. But Henry explained that the accused's lawyer would not be making objections on his behalf (Ntagerura's, lawyer), but would give advice to his client (Kabiligi) at appropriate moments. He added that ifthe witness Kabiligi was at risk of giving responses that could incriminate him, his lawyer would advise him. The Chamber stated that the motion had been granted and that the decision in writing would be available later. The proceedings continue on Monday morning. The case is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia andPavel Dolenc of Slovenia. SW/FH (TR-0322e)