Arusha, February 03, 2003 (FH) - Former prefect of the South West Rwanda province of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki “did everything he could” to stop killings in his province during the 1994 genocide, his defence told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) on Monday. Bagambiki's defence counsel, Vincent Lurquin of Belgium was presenting the opening statement for the defence.

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“We shall bring witnesses to testify on how Bagambiki (…) did everything he could to save as many lives as he could. He did not succeed on all occasion, but he did his best”, said Lurquin. Bagambiki, 54 is accused of being one of the planners and leaders of the genocide in his home province of Cyangugu. The prosecution accuses him of attending and participating in meetings organising the genocide and coordinating killings of ethnic Tutsis throughout the genocide. The prosecution alleges that at one point, Bagambiki promised the Hutu population of his province that they would kill all Tutsis so that “in thefuture, generations of Hutu children will not know what a Tutsi looks like”. Lurquin challenged the statement arguing that Bagambiki would not have gone around Cyangugu persuading assailants to stop the killings if he held such opinions. He listed several occasions on which he said Bagambiki had successfully prevented attacks against Tutsis. “However”, said Lurquin, “the will of one man wouldn't stop a deadly menace”. Furthermore, Lurquin said that the defence would “demonstrate” that the prosecution had presented a “simple version of events in Rwanda”. “In the indictment, the prosecution mentions the October 1990 invasion of Rwanda by the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF, a predominantly Tutsi rebel movement) only once. This is despite the fact that it is one of, if not the most important, trigger of the 1994 genocide”, said Lurquin. “If there hadn't been a war, there wouldn't have been the killings”, he added. Lurquin also told the court that, contrary to the prosecution case, Bagambiki was “a manager and not a politician”. This, said Lurquin, was inline with his (Bagambiki's) professional training in and “passion” for teaching. “He dedicated his skills to the development of his region”, he said. Bagambiki is jointly on trial with two former leaders from Cyangugu. They are; former minister of transport and telecommunications, Andre Ntagerura and former commander of the Cyangugu military camp, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. Earlier on Monday, Imanishimwe's defence closed its case albeit before presenting its last witness. The witness, a military official, could notmake it to the tribunal on schedule. The court however said it would hear him as soon as he managed to get to the court. Defence said that the witness was still waiting to get permission to leave his country from the head of state. The Cyangugu trial was adjourned shorrly after Lurquin's opening statement at the end of the afternoon session. It will resume on Tuesday with the first defence witness for Bagambiki. The trial is before 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. GG/CE/FH(CY'0203e)