Arusha, July 24, 2000 (FH) - The trial of former Rwandan mayor Laurent Semanza is to start on October 16th, according to the latest judicial calendar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Semanza, 56, was mayor of Bicumbi, in the Kigali rural prefecture of central Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide.

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He faces 14 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes, for his alleged part in massacres of ethnic Tutsis. The prosecution also accuses Semanza of having "instigated, ordered and encouraged militiamen, in particular Interahamwe, and other persons to rape Tutsi women or commit other outrages upon the personal dignity of Tutsi women". Semanza was arrested in Cameroon in March 1996. He is defended by Cameroonian lawyer Charles Taku. The accused had previously contested his arrest and detention, and demanded his release on the grounds they were illegal. Last month, the ICTR Appeals Court ruled that there had indeed been failings on the part of the prosecution, and that the rights of the accused had been violated during his initial detention. They ordered that these violations be taken into account at the time of his judgement by the ICTR. If he is found not-guilty, the court said he should receive financial compensation. If he is found guilty, it said his sentence should be reduced to take account of the violations. AT/JC/FH (SE%0724E)