By Sheenah Kaliisa
ARUSHA 28 May 2002 (Internews) Genocide suspect Andre Ntagerura was a man of integrity who loved his country, a former Rwandan minister testifying in his defense today told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
Charles Nkurunziza, secretary-general of the cabinet during the 1994 genocide, took the stand when the so-called “Cyangugu Trial” resumed. The trial was adjourned on 22 May following the withdrawal of a defense witness who had been scheduled to testify.
Ntagerura, a former minister of transport and communication, 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.
Nkurunziza told the court that after serving as secretary-general to the government between 1992 and June 1994, he was appointed president of the constitutional court in Rwanda.
As secretary-general, Nkurunziza testified, he worked under the office of the prime minister and his duties included taking minutes during cabinet meetings, which Ntagerura also attended as minister of transport and communication.
Led by Hamuli Rety of the Democratic Republic of Congo and France, co-counsel for Ntagerura, Nkurunziza claimed, “Ntagerura was arrested unfairly because he is innocent.”
The witness told the court that he now lives in Belgium where he is seeking refugee status.
He continues to testify in the trial 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.