Arusha, February 24, 2004 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday acquitted two former Rwandan senior government officials accused of genocide but convicted their co-accused of genocide and sentenced him to 27 years imprisonment. The former minister of Transport and communications, André Ntagerura, 54, and the former Prefect of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki, 55 were set free by the court which ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a case against the two beyond a reasonable doubt.

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The chamber however ruled that the former commander of Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, 43- year old Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe did play a role in the 1994 genocide and was declared guilty of six counts, including genocide, extermination, murder. The chamber found that Imanishimwe was criminally responsible for the killings of Tutsi civilians at Gashirabwoba football Stadium in Cyangugu Prefecture in 1994. He failed to prevent the killings by his soldiers, the court ruled. Imanishimwe was also found guilty of ordering, abetting and aiding torture of detainees at Karambo military barracks who were suspected to have ties with the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). The massacres were committed in diverse places in Cyangugu such as churches in Nyamasheke and Mibilizi, the Cyangugu Cathedral and the Gashirabwoba football stadium. Imanishimwe is the first Rwandan military officer to be convicted by the ICTR. The acquittal of Ntagerura and Bagambiki brings to three the total number of genocide suspects who have been acquitted by the tribunal since it was established. Former mayor of Mabanza commune, Ignace Bagilishema, was acquitted by the tribunal on June 7th, 2001. André Ntagerura was arrested in Cameroon on March 27, 1996. He was minister in Rwanda from 1981 to 1994. Emmanuel Bagambiki was arrested in Togo on June 8, 1998. He served as sub-prefect for Gisenyi and prefect for Gitarama, Kigali Rural and Cyangugu respectively. Samuel Imanishimwe was arrested in Kenya on August 11, 1997. The verdict brings to 21 the total number of accused judged so far by the tribunal. CE/PJ/FH (CY'0225e)