Arusha, April 1, 2003 (FH) - Emmanuel Bagambiki, the former prefect of Cyangugu (southwestern Rwanda), on Tuesday told The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that he played no role in the death of 17 Tutsis at a police station on 17 April 1994. Bagambiki narrated to the court how the group, all of them refugees at Kamarampaka stadium, had been removed on the advice of the Prefectoral Security Council of which he was head.

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Bagambiki said that people he called “assailants”, had been threatening to attack the refugees if the said people were not delivered to them. He added that they were being accused of being armed and in communication with the RPF. “The militia had drawn up a list of those they suspected as being RPF accomplices and were pestering gendarmes who had been deployed to guard the refugees”, explained the former prefect, adding that he feared for the refugees as the “assailants” outnumbered the gendarmes. Asked as to why he had not sought reinforcements from the army, Bagambiki replied that it was beyond his competence, adding that only the commander of the gendarmerie had the powers to call in the army. “The security council thought that by handing them over to the prosecutor, it would appease the attackers and therefore save them. But since it was late in the day and they could not be kept at the prosecutor's offices, they were transferred to the gendarmerie station for safe keeping”, the accused explained at length. That same night, the gendarmes at the station were overpowered by attackers who killed all the Tutsis being kept there. Some individuals were untouchableThe court also heard that a prominent farmerturned militia leader, Yussuf Munyakazi, was moving around with armed militia killing Tutsis. Bagambiki acknowledged knowing the individual and his deeds during the height of the genocide. “Yes, I got reports that Munyakazi and his group had been involved in killings at Shangi parish”, the former prefect said. He added that he had instructed the commander of the gendarmerie to investigate and arrest the man. “The commander of the gendarmerie reported back to me and said that he had failed to arrest Munyakazi. ” Bagambiki told the tribunal. “The man was moving around a lot, and the few times the gendarmes had met with him, Munyakazi was always in the company of many armed people. The gendarmes could not approach him”. Yussuf Munyakazi is also indicted on the same charge sheet as Bagambiki and two others, but he is still on the run. The two other accused in this joint trial are former minister of transport and communications, André Ntagerura and the former commander for Cyangugu military barracks, Lt. Samuel Imanishimwe. All three have denied claims that they were the ring leaders in the massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. Asked by his counsel, the Belgian Vincent Liquid, as to what pushed him to move the refugees from various church compounds and schools to Kamarampaka stadium, Bagambiki answered that since they had few gendarmes at their disposal, defending the church and school compounds would have been difficult. “The stadium had high walls around it, so it was easy to keep out attackers”, explained the accused, adding that once they found the security of the refugees was compromised, they had opted to transfer them to Nyarushishi camp. The trial continues Wednesday when Emmanuel Bagambiki is expected to end his testimony. The case is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, composed of Judges Lloyd Williams of St Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. KN/CE/FH(CY'0401e)