By Sheenah Kaliisa
ARUSHA (Internews) The so-called “Cyangugu Trial” before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [ICTR] has been adjourned until 28 May after the defense team of genocide suspect Andre Ntagerura withdrew a witness who was scheduled to testify.
During proceedings last week, the court asked Benoit Henry of Canada, counsel for Ntagerura, to reduce the number of witnesses he intends to call because they are “too many.”
“Since the defense has withdrawn the witness, we now adjourn the proceedings until Tuesday next week,” presiding Judge George Lloyd Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis said.
Ntagerura, a former minister of transport and communication in Rwanda, is jointly tried with Emmanuel Bagambiki, former Cyangugu governor, and Samuel Imanishimwe, former commander of the Karambo military camp in Cyangugu. All three defendants come from Cyangugu Province, southwestern Rwanda.
Ntagerura, Bagambiki and Imanishimwe have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. They allegedly committed the crimes between April and June 1994 in Rwanda. More than 800,000 died during the genocide.
During today’s proceedings, the 27th defense witness — identified only as “NH” — who worked in the department of transport (ONATRACOM) at the ministry of transport and communication in 1994, testified that Ntagerura did not supervise the use of the ministry’s vehicles.
The witness explained that the ministry’s vehicles were the responsibility of someone in ONATRACOM’s department of control. “The minister was in charge of activities at a higher level,” NH stressed.
According to the prosecution, Ntagerura authorized the use of ONATRACOM buses to transport ‘Interahamwe’ militia, and for the transportation of arms and ammunitions to Cyangugu. The Interahamwe was the youth wing of the Movement of the Republic for National Development (MRND), the party that led a coalition government during the genocide.
Most of NH’s testimony was heard in closed session, as was the testimony of another witness — identified only as “AH” — who testified yesterday.
The trial is held before Trial Chamber III of the ICTR, comprising Judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia.