Arusha, October 26th, '99 (FH) - The trial of Ignace Bagilishema, former mayor of Mabanza (Kibuye prefecture, western Rwanda), is to start on Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bagilishema is charged with seven counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination and other inhumane acts) and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes.

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Charges contained in an amended indictment include "causing outrages upon the personal dignity of [Tutsi] women, including humiliating and degrading treatment". Bagilishema is accused of massacring ethnic Tutsis in Kibuye area. "Throughout April, May and June 1994, Ignace Bagilishema, acting in concert with others, committed acts of murder and encouraged others to capture, torture and kill Tutsi men, women and children seeking refuge from attacks within the area of Mabanza, Gishyita and Gisovu communes, Kibuye prefecture," says the indictment. The former mayor has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His defence lawyer is François Roux of France, assisted by Mauritanian co-counsel Maroufa Diabira. Trial Chamber One, which will be hearing the trial, is expected to visit Rwanda on November 1st, to inspect sites where the alleged crimes were committed. This is the first such visit to Rwanda by a Trial Chamber of the ICTR. The judges concerned are Eric Mose (Norway), Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardena (Sri Lanka) and Mehmet Guney (Turkey). Bagilishema, 44, was arrested in South Africa last February. He was mayor of Mabanza from February 1980 to July 1994. The accused was initially indicted with seven other people, of whom two have already been tried and five are on the run. For this reason, the Tribunal on September15th ordered a separate trial for Bagilishema. AT/JC/FH (§1026e)