Arusha, March 13, 2002 (FH) - A defence witness in the trial of two political leaders and a military commander from Cyangugu (south of Rwanda), on Wednesday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that former Minister Andre Ntagerura, one of the accused, did not distribute arms to militia. The witness known as "BZFH" to protect his identity was testifying in the so-called Cyangugu trial, in which Ntagerura is co-accused with former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former commander of the Karambo military camp in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe.

1 min 21Approximate reading time

Prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. BZFH, the ninth defence witness, told ICTR's Trial Chamber Three that he never heard of Ntagerura distributing arms to militia in his area. Prosecution witnesses have testified before the Chamber about massacres at the Shagasha Tea Factory in Cyangugu, alleging that Ntagerura brought weapons and uniforms to Interahamwe militia there. But BZHF said: "I did not see Minister Ntagerura bring weapons or uniforms to the factory. It would not have happened without him being seen and people would have spoken about it. "The witness said that had the minister been at the tea factory, it would have been a big event because he was an important personality. Prosecution witnesses had testified that work stopped at the factory after Ntagerura's visit, but BZHF told the court that he never heard of the stoppage, and not even people who lived close by talked about it. Ntagerura is accused of having allowed or authorised the use of government vehicles, specifically buses for the transportation of [Interahamwe] militia, and for the transportation of arms and ammunitions to Cyangugu prefecture. BZHF started his testimony on Wednesday afternoon and was questioned by Ntagerura's lead counsel Benoit Henry of Canada. Part of his testimony was heard in closed session. Most of the defence witnesses so far have testified mostly in closed session. Witness BZHF continues testimony on Thursday morning, before 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/FH (CY-0313e)