Arusha, February 25, 2004 (FH) The so-called “Cyangugu trial”, for which a verdict will be rendered on Wednesday by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), is one of the joint trials grouped according to geographic locations. This was a strategy adopted in the early days by the tribunal.

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The trial which began on September 18, 2000, groups together three former officials accused of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Cyangugu (south-western Rwanda) in 1994. The accused in the trial are the former minister of Transport and communications, André Ntagerura, 54, the former Prefect of Cyangugu, Emmanuel Bagambiki, 55 and the former commander of Karambo military barracks in Cyangugu, 43- year old Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe. All have pleaded not guilty. The trial has been under deliberation since August 15, 2003. In 160 trial days, over 126 witnesses for both the prosecution and the defence were called, setting a record for the highest number of witnesses. It took 35 months of arguments to see it through, making it the longest trial so far conducted by the ICTR. During the trial, the prosecution tried to prove that there was a regional-based conspiracy, but the defence tested its first victory when the tribunal acquitted Imanishimwe of the charge. This pushed the other accused to also file a motion seeking an acquittal on conspiracy charges but the tribunal preferred to reserve its ruling for the judgment. The Cyangugu trial also made history by the nature of some of the allegations. Apart from the now usual charges of massacres and torture, charges of cannibalism were brought up. A prosecution witnesses alleged that on April 14, Imanishimwe, in the company of Interahamwe militia, had eaten human flesh. The Cyangugu trial was conducted in the former Trial Chamber Three presided over by Judge George Llyod Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, assisted by Judge Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia, and Judge Yakov Ostrovsky form Russia. Both Ostrovsky and Dolenc will no longer sit in the ICTR after Wednesday's judgment. Dolenc was not re-elected while Ostrovsky is going into retirement. The other geographically-based trial is that known as the Butare (southern Rwanda) trial which groups together six people. Though it began in 2001, it is still hearing prosecution evidence. The prosecution had first toyed with the idea of a trial of that nature when it tried to group eight people from Kibuye (western Rwanda). It finallyabandoned the idea and settled to a more modest trial when it failed to arrest the majority of the suspects in time. Created on November 8 1994 by the United Nations, the ICTR is mandated to try person's accused of genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law committed on the territory of Rwanda or neighbouring states between January 1 and 31, 1994. KN/GA/AT/CE/FH (CY''0225ee)