Arusha, February 5, 2003 (FH) - Genocide suspect and former prefect of the southwest Rwanda prefecture of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki, dispatched gendarmes to a colleague's home to protect wanted ethnic Tutsis refugees during the genocide, a defence witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday. Bagambiki, 54 is accused of masterminding the genocide in his home region of Cyangugu.

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The prosecution accuses him of attending and participating in meetings organising and coordinating killings of ethnic Tutsis. He is jointly on trial with two former leaders from Cyangugu. They are; former minister of Transport and Telecommunications, André Ntagerura and former Commander of the Cyangugu military camp, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. The protected defence witness said that following the start of the persecution of Tutsis, he had sheltered two Tutsis, a man and a girl. However, he said, militias had attacked his home after learning of the presence of the refugees. “I warned them that the blood of these innocent people would cast a curse on their children and their descendents”, said the witness. He said that the militias then left his home but promised to return. “I then called Bagambiki requesting for help since I was overwhelmed”, testified the witness. “That evening”, he said, “gendarmes sent by Bagambiki arrived at (my) house”. The witness went on to say that, with help from the gendarmes, he had evacuated the Tutsi man to the regional stadium, Kamarampaka. As for the girl, he said that he hid her at his place until the end of the war. “The two are alive today”, the witness said of the refugees. “I'm proud of that”, he added. Furthermore, the witness told the court that he knew Bagambiki as a man opposed to extremism. He said that after the assassination of Martin Bucyana (a prominent Hutu politician), Bagambiki had embarked on a campaign to calm down Hutus who wanted revenge for the assassination. “There was talk in town that Tutsi businessmen had been behind the assassination of Bucyana. People demonstrated (…) with slogans saying that Tutsis had to be buried before Bucyana”, said the witness. “Bagambiki's “pacification campaign produced remarkable fruits,” he said. Following this witnesses' testimony, the chamber went into closed session to hear the third defence witness. After that witness, the court adjourned until Monday. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR composed of judges; Llody George William of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GG/CE/FH(CY'0205e)