Arusha, March 31, 2003 (FH) - The former prefect of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki, on Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that he stopped a huge crowd of people from attacking Tutsis who had taken refuge at Nyamasheke church. Bagambiki has been testifying in his own defence since last Wednesday.

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He is jointly tried with two other former officials of the town in the SouthWestern part of Rwanda: the former military commander of Karambo barracks, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe, and the former minister of transport, André Ntagerura. All three have pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in massacres of Tutsis in Cyangugu during the genocide in 1994. The 54 yearold former prefect told the court that he had received a distress call from the former subprefect of Rwesero that a large group of people were poised to attack Nyamasheke. “I immediately called for help from the gendarmerie and a detachment was sent to the diocese”, explained the accused. “The gendarmes did all they could to defend the refugees”, continued Bagambiki, adding that he had managed to avert other attacks through a pacification campaign, giving an example of one hotbed of unrest, Mibirizi, that he had embarked on on April 24,1994. Bagambiki added that he even appointed a commission of four people to access the needs of refugees at Mibirizi. It was made up of Pierre Kwitonda and Gatabazi, Members of parliament for MDR and MRND political parties, Father Aimé Mategeko and a subprefect called Theodore. The accused also denied claims that he had supplied arms to workers of Shagasha tea factory to use in the killings. “ Weapons were only given out in areas that were close to the war theatre, and Cyangugu was not one ofthem. Whenever there was trouble, I would get together the prefectoral security counsel to look for a way to return peace”, he continued explaining, adding that most of the time he called in the catholic church to help. The “fire extinguisher” of Bugesera“We associated the church because it had the moral authority, it could be trusted and it was respected”, Bagambiki continued. He added that he had started pacification campaigns as early as February 1994, after the death of Martin Bucyana, a leader of the extremist CDR party that led to unrest in Cyangugu. Earlier, Bagambiki had also denied claims by the prosecution that he had been involved in Killings in Bugesera region while he was prefect of Kigali rural prefecture two years earlier, in 1992. Bugesera was host to a large number of Tutsis. He said that even evidence of that was given by one of the prosecution witnesses, former prosecutor of Kigali who conducted investigationsimmediately after the events, Francois Xavier Nsanzuwera. Bagambiki's attorney, Vincent Lurquin from Belgium, read to the court excerpts fromNsanzuwera' testimony. “The prefect pacified, the subprefect pacified…”, it read in part. Bagambiki also explained that he had been named the “fire extinguisher” of Bugesera following a successful campaign to quell the unrest. He added that the church again played an important role in bringing back peace to the region. ”It was a great success”, said Bagambiki talking of the joint campaign with the church. The church and I spoke the same language of peace, tolerance and the respect of life. I personally led the campaign”. He added that over 300 hundred people died at that time and that about 60 people were arrested and tried. Bagambiki will continue giving his testimony on Tuesday before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR, presided over by Judge George Lloyd Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, and including Judge Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. KN/CE/FH(CY'0331e)