Arusha, July 4, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan Information Minister Eliézer Niyitegeka on Monday pleaded not-guilty to an amended indictment before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The new charges include direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and rape as a crime against humanity.

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The prosecution last week asked the court for permission to try Niyitigeka with seven other former members of the Rwandan interim government that presided over the 1994 genocide. The other ex-ministers are: Edouard Karemera (Interior), André Rwamakuba (Education), Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda (Culture and Higher Education), Casimir Bizimungu (Health), Justin Mugenzi (Commerce), Jérôme Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs), and Prosper Mugiraneza (Civil Service). Niyitigeka was initially charged with six counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions on war crimes. Four new charges have now been added. He is accused of acting in concert with the other members of the interim government to plan and implement the genocide against ethnic Tutsis. The new indictment charges him with personally raping and killing a Tutsi woman and encouraging others to do likewise. With regard to the charge of incitement, the indictment says that, as Minister of Information, the accused had command responsibility over ORINFOR (Rwandan state media body), including the programmes of Radio Rwanda and Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). Both these radio stations were used to incite Hutus to kill Tutsis. "Incitement to massacre the civilian population over the radio air-waves of RTLM and Radio Rwanda can be directly imputed to Eliézer Niyitigeka for his failure to control the programming of the radio broadcasts, or to curtail the anti-Tutsi gendarmes," says the indictment. The prosecution says Niyitigeka was one of the ministers mandated by the interim government to travel the country, ensuring implementation of its "civil defence" programme. It says the youth militia of Niyitigeka's MDR party, subsequently integrated with that of the former single party MRND, was directly under his control. Niyitegeka, 47, was arrested on February 9th, 1999, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and transferred three days later to the UN prison in Arusha, Tanzania. He pleaded not guilty to his first indictment on April 15th, 1999. Niyitigeka is defended by Irish lawyer Sylvia Hannah Geraghty. BN/JC/FH (NA%0704E)