Arusha, August 12th, '99 (FH) - Former Rwandan Minister for Family Welfare Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son Arsène Ntahobali on Thursday pleaded not guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to new genocide and rape charges. On Tuesday the court granted a prosecutor's request to amend their joint indictment, bringing the number of charges from seven to eleven.

1 min 4Approximate reading time

The new counts include conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and rape. Nyiramasuhuko is the first woman to be charged with rape as a war crime and crime against humanity. The prosecutor accuses her of encouraging sexual violence as part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilians on "political, ethnic and racial grounds". Up to one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the Rwandan genocide between April and July 1994. Speaking clearly and calmly, Nyiramasuhuko entered a not guilty plea as each of the eleven counts was read out to her. She was followed by former militiaman Ntahobali who also pleaded not guilty to each of ten counts. The public incitement charge (Count Four) applies only to Nyiramasuhuko. Prosecutors this week requested indictment amendments for four other accused whom they want to group with Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali in a joint trial. The six are accused of conspiring to commit crimes in the Butare region of southern Rwanda. The other four accused in the so-called Butare group are former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje, former mayor of Ngoma Joseph Kanyabashi, and two former prefects of Butare Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo. The court has already granted leave for the prosecution to amend the indictment against Ndayambaje. A decision on the other three is expected shortly. JC/FH (BT§0812e)