Arusha, February 25, 2004 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Wednesday announced that he would be appealing the acquittal of two former Rwandan government officials. The two officials had been accused of genocide against Tutsis in 1994.

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The lead prosecutor in this trial, Richard Karegyesa from Uganda, said that the prosecution was going to appeal the verdict. The former minister of Transport and Communication, André Ntagerura, 54, and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Prefect of Cyangugu (south western Rwanda), 56, were acquitted on all charges brought against them. The third person in this joint trial, former commander of Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe, 43, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity. Ntagerura had been charged with six counts while Bagambiki had six. The charges included genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. The tribunal found that "the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt" that the two former senior officials committed the crimes brought against them. The prosecution had alleged that Ntagerura, who hailed from Cyangugu, had visited Cyangugu on numerous occasions during the genocide to supervise the massacres. It continued that being the minister of transport, he had authorised government-owned buses to transport Interahamwe to killing sites, and had also distributed weapons to civilians to use against the Tutsis. The chamber found that even though there was evidence of "widespread attacks against the Tutsi civilian population of Cyangugu on ethnic grounds", the prosecution failed to show that the killers were acting under Bagambiki's instructions. "This is extremely rewarding", commented an elated Benoit Henry from Canada, Ntagerura's lead counsel. "It lends credibility to the international judicial process". Emmanuel Bagambiki was arrested in Togo on June 8, 1998 while André Ntagerura was arrested in Cameroon on March 27, 1996. Bagambiki's defence team was made up of Vincent Lurquin from Belgium and Seydou Doumbia of the Malian Bar. The trial was conducted in Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia, and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. Judge Williams was the only one who gave a dissenting view as regards Bagambiki. It was his view that the former prefect had a case to answer on genocide and crimes against humanity. KN/AT/FH(CY"0225f)