Arusha, February 25, 2003 (FH) - The trial of three officials accused of having organised the genocide in Cyangugu, SouthWestern Rwanda, was adjourned on Tuesday for lack of witnesses at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Trial Chamber Three was put off until Friday, February 28, after hearing the 15th defence witness dubbed "KOE" to protect his identity.

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"KOE" was called in defence of former prefect of Cyangugu prefecture, Emmanuel Bagambiki. The former prefect is being jointly tried with a former Minister of Transport and Communications, André Ntagerura and the military commander of Karambo barracks, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. The three have pleaded not guilty to charges by the prosecution that they were responsible for the massacres of ethnic Tutsis in Cyangugu during the 1994 genocide. Bagambiki's defence team is led by Vincent Lurquin from Belgium assisted by Seydou Doumbia of Mali, while the prosecution team is led by Richard Karegesa, assisted by Antra Mobberley, Holo Makwaya and S. Khan. KOE said that Nyamasheke parish had come under siege around mid April because it harboured Tutsi refugees who had fled their homes. A huge crowd had surrounded the parish and attacked it but the refugees fought back and the attackers retreated. The attackers then called in reinforcements from neighbouring Gafunzo and were on the verge of launching another attack when the prefect arrived at the scene, accompanied by Bishop Thadée Ntihinyurwa of Cyangugu Diocese and gendarmes. "KOE" claimed that the accused negotiated with the crowd who were milled outside the gates of the parish. He ordered them to leave the premises, but they refused claiming that they had been shot at from inside the compound by Father Ubaldo Rugirangoga. He added that it was only when the prefect had left that the parish was overrun by the attackers. The trial is set to resume Friday February 28, 2003, but only to discuss a report by an expert witness that should have been presented to the bench prior to Bagambiki's defence. It will then be adjourned until March 10, 2003 when more witnesses for Bagambiki's defence will be called. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR composed of judges Lloyd George William of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. KN/CE/FH (CY'0225e)