Arusha, March 12, 2002 (FH) - Former Rwanda Minister André Ntagerura did not visit Bugarama (south of Cyangugu) in 1994 to address a meeting to prepare the genocide, but rather was in another area to inaugurate a project, the third defence witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Monday. Ntagerura has denied charges of genocide in Cyangugu.

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The defence witness known only as "ZJH" for the protection of his identity, contradicted testimony by prosecution witnesses that Ntagerura arrived for "a meeting" in Bugarama by helicopter at the beginning of 1994. According to ZJH, the Minister attended a function in another area, in the company of a female Minister Ntamabyariro, to inaugurate a project at a cement factory, CIMERWA (Cimenterie du Rwanda). Ntagerura, a former Minister for Transport, is co-accused with former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki and former commander of the Karambo military camp in Cyangugu, Samuel Imanishimwe. The prosecution maintains that all three are guilty of massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. They have pleaded not guilty. Ntagerura is said to have 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. "I never heard of any helicopter in Bugarama", said ZJH. He added that although he did not see the minister personally, he saw the helicopter in his own area because it "made a lot of noise". Other people informed him that the Minister (Ntagerura) came in it. However, a prosecution witness, "LAI" testified last September that former Minister Ntagerura arrived in a helicopter at Bugarama commune, south of Cyangugu, at the beginning of 1994. LAI, a self-confessed killer, had also said local authorities were waiting for Ntagerura, as his visit had been announced. Part of the testimony was heard in closed session. Before ZJH, another protected witness, ZFH testified. The testimony lasted about one hour. The fourth defence witness, also a protected witness dubbed T5H started testimony on Monday afternoon. The testimony started in a closed session at the request of Ntagerura's lead counsel, Canadian Benoit Henry. Witness T5H continued testimony on Tuesday 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-0311e)