Arusha, November 11th, 2000 (FH) - Former Rwandan military leader TharcisseMuvunyi on Wednesday pleaded not-guilty to five counts of genocide andcrimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal forRwanda (ICTR), as prosecutors struggled to clarify the indictment. Muvunyi had been due to plead before the court on Monday, but his initialappearance was postponed to Wednesday so the prosecution could correct theindictment and the defence would have time to study it.

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However, problemsstill had not been ironed out when the court convened at 11 a. m. local timeWednesday. Tanzanian duty counsel Jesse Kiritta complained that "whateverindictment is before the court, it was served on us ten minutes ago and wehave no idea what is in it. It is the same problem as on Monday. "Judge William Sekule of Tanzania, sitting alone on the bench, postponed thehearing for a further 45 minutes. When the court reconvened at midday,there still appeared to be discrepancies between the French and Englishversions of the indictment, and chunks of sentences missing in the redactedtext. Muvunyi is co-accused with two other persons who are still on therun, hence the need for redaction. The initial appearance nevertheless went ahead. Muvunyi, dressed in a darksuit and bright tie, delivered a calm plea of not-guilty to all five countsas they were read out: genocide or in the alternative complicity ingenocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and two chargesof crimes against humanity (rape and other inhumane acts). As the court was about to adjourn, Muvunyi made an appeal to the judge: "Ihave something to ask," he said. "You have heard yourself that the text hasbeen redacted. With this redaction it is impossible for me to defend myselfproperly. I am asking for severance so that I can know exactly what I ambeing accused of. "Judge Sekule told the defendant that this was a "very valid concern", andsaid he hoped the accused would take it up with his counsel. Muvunyi was commander of the military school in Butare, southern Rwanda,during the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of some 800,000 ethnicTutsis and moderate Hutus. The prosecution says he played a leading role ininciting, organizing and carrying out massacres in Butare prefecture, wherehe had control over military operations. Muvunyi is also held responsiblefor atrocities committed by soldiers under his command, including thekilling of two Tutsi priests and groups of Tutsi children. The accused was arrested in Britain on February 5th this year, on aninternational arrest warrant from the International Criminal Tribunal forRwanda (ICTR). He was transferred to the ICTR prison in Arusha, Tanzania onOctober 30th. JC/FH (MV%1108e)