Arusha, February 4, 2003 (FH) - The first defence witness in the genocide trial of former prefect of the southwest Rwanda prefecture of Cyangugu at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) gave most of his testimony on Tuesday in closed session. Bagambiki, 54, is accused of being one of the architects of the genocide in his home region of Cyangugu.

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The prosecution accuses him of attending and participating in meetings organising the genocide and coordinating killings of ethnic Tutsis throughout the genocide. He is jointly on trial with two former leaders from Cyangugu, former minister of Transport and telecommunications, André Ntagerura and former Commander of the Cyangugu military camp, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. Defence witness ‘KOT', named as such to protect his identity from the public, only appeared in open session briefly. Consistent with the defence's opening statement on Monday, KOT said that the prefecture authorities under Bagambiki had tried to unite the population of Cyangugu in the ‘tense' times that preceded the genocide. Whereas the prosecution accuses Bagambiki of making divisive speeches inciting ethnic Hutus to kill Tutsis, KOT said that the former prefect had made “pacification and reconciliation” trips around the prefecture. He gave examples of speeches made by prefecture officials to Tutsis refugees in various camps in Cyangugu in the runup and during the genocide. The refugees had fled from attacks by Hutu militias. The defence, in its application for a closed session, said that "KOT's testimony would dwell on functions he held before and after 1994. ”. Defence counsel Vincent Lurquin of Belgium also said that the witness knew Bagambiki before, during and after events of 1994. No information was revealed in open session as to KOT's function before, during or after 1994. 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'0204e)