Arusha, January 21, 2003 (FH) - Former commander of the Cyangugu military camp in south west Rwanda, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe, told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday that contrary to prosecution allegations, pregenocide violence in Cyangugu had been initiated by RPF rebels and not the then Rwandan army. Imanishimwe, 41 is charged with several counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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Among other accusations, he is charged with ordering the arrest and execution of several ethnic Tutsi civilians at the military camp of Cyangugu. He is also accused of planning and carrying out killings of Tutsis throughout Cyangugu. Imanishimwe is jointly accused with two other former politicians from the Cyangugu region in what has been called the 'Cyangugu trial'. They are exTransport and Communications Minister André Ntagerura and former Cyangugu prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki. The three have pleaded not guilty. Imanishimwe, is the 21st witness in his defence. He began testifying on Monday. "They infiltrated the entire country", Imanishimwe said of the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels. "RPF soldiers were all over the place, dressed in civilian. They assassinated people and carried out other acts of sabotage", he said. In addition to the RPF infiltration, he testified of soldiers under his command being inferior to the RPF both in numbers and resources. Imanishimwe testified that contrary to testimony form prosecution witnesses, he hadn't been the most powerful soldier in Cyangugu region. "There was Lt. Col. Bavugamenshi, the regional army commander", said Imanishimwe. Furthermore, he denied allegations by expert prosecution witness and French professor, André Gichaoua, that his (Imanishimwe's) position as commander of the Cyangugu military camp was a privileged position. "There wasn't anything special with that position", said Imanishimwe. "It was a position always held by junior officials", he added. Imanishimwe will continue his testimony on Wednesday. This trial is before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR composed of judges Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia, Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding) and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. GG/CE/FH (CY0121e)