Arusha, February 13, 2002 (FH) - Defence lawyers for former military leader Samuel Imanishimwe have asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to acquit him on the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide, before the trial restarts in early March. Imanishimwe is also charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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In their motion, his lawyers are urging the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three to find that the Prosecutor has not brought evidence to prove the conspiracy charge. At the time of the 1994 genocide, Imanishimwe was commander of the military barracks in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda. He is being jointly tried with two other former leaders in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda : former Transport Minister André Ntagerura, and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. All three are charged in connection with massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during genocide, and have pleaded not guilty. Prosecution closed its case against the accused on November 21st, 2001. The trial is due to reopen on March 4th, with the start of the defence case. Imanishimwe is defended by Marie-Louise Mbida of Cameroon and Jean-Pierre Fofe of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They base their motion on Rule 98bis of the ICTR Rules, which states that: "If, after the close of the case for the prosecution, the Trial Chamber finds that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction on one or more counts charged in the indictment, the Trial Chamber, on motion of an accused or proprio motu (on its own initiative), shall order the entry of judgement of acquittal in respect of those counts. "AT/JC/FH (CY-0213E )