ARUSHA 17 May 2002 (Internews) There were no massacres in Cyangugu Province, southwestern Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide, a defense witness testified today before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The witness — identified only as “T3H” — told the court that he is from the same village as Andre Ntagerura, a former minister of transport and communication in Rwanda. T3H is the 23rd witness in Ntagerura’s defense.
Ntagerura is jointly tried with Emmanuel Bagambiki and Samuel Imanishimwe in the so-called “Cyangugu Trial.” Bagambiki is a former governor of Cyangugu and Imanishimwe is a former commander of the Karambo military camp in Cyangugu. All three have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
According to the prosecution, Ntagerura had strong community and political ties in Cyangugu and frequently traveled to Karengera, Gatare and other communes in the province. He allegedly held meetings with other members of the Movement of the Republic for National Democracy (MRND), as well as with councilors and mayors in the province to plan the genocide.
The prosecution claims that more than 100,000 ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate ethnic Hutu were slaughtered in Cyangugu in 1994.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Andra Mobberley of New Zealand, T3H maintained that he is not aware of any massacres that took place in Cyangugu. However, he adds that Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers carried out the only massacres he has heard of, against ethnic Hutu.
The witness told the court that Ntagerura is not related to Yusuf Munyakazi, who led ‘Interahamwe’ militiamen in Cyangugu during the genocide. The prosecution alleges that from 1 January to 31 July 1994, Ntagerura was often in the company of, and publicly expressed his support for, Munyakazi. The Interahamwe was the youth wing of Movement of the Republic for National Development (MRND), the party that led a coalition government during the genocide.
T3H denied that Munyakazi armed and trained Interahamwe in 1994.
“Isn’t it true that you were in fact one of Yusuf Munyakazi’s militias, and that you, on the 27th of April 1994 transported food and ammunition to Interahamwe to reinforce their attack against civilians in Kizinga commune of Kibuye province?” Mobberley asked. The witness responded that he was not a militiaman but admitted that he was a member of the MRND.
In his main evidence led by Benoit Henry of Canada yesterday, lead counsel for Ntagerura, T3H said that he may not be able to identify Ntagerura in the courtroom because he has not seen him in a long time.
The 20th defense witness — identified only as “CHD” — testified mostly in closed session yesterday.
She told court that she worked in the department of transport at the ministry of transport and communication (ONATRACOM) in 1994. CHD alleged that after the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, the ministry’s public transport vehicles were not under the control of anyone at the ministry because of the violence.
The prosecution alleges that Ntagerura authorized the use of government vehicles, specifically buses, to transport Interahamwe militia, and for the transportation of arms and ammunitions to Cyangugu prefecture.
“Civil servants were not working [from mid April], and before that, I didn’t know about the authorization of vehicles by Ntagerura for use by the Interahamwe,” CHD stressed.
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.