Arusha, May 30, 2001 (FH) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will hand down its judgement and sentence in the case of former Rwandan mayor Ignace Bagilishema on June 7th. ICTR President Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa made the announcement during a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday for two new ICTR judges.

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Bagilishema was mayor of Mabanza commune, in the west Rwandan prefecture of Kibuye, during the 1994 genocide. He is charged with seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in massacres of Tutsis in Mabanza and neighbouring communes. He is also charged for the alleged crimes of his subordinates, that is, his assistants, communal policemen and gendarmes posted to Mabanza. The prosecution says that about 45,000 Tutsis were killed at the sites mentioned in the indictment, of whom at least half in and around Mabanza. Prosecutors have urged the court to impose the maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the accused. Bagilishema has pleaded not-guilty. In the course of the trial, his lawyers presented him as a "good mayor who dedicated himself to the development of his commune and peaceful coexistence between its different ethnic and religious communities". French defence counsel François Roux told the court that his client had been "a man alone in the torment", threatened by attackers. Roux is assisted by co-counsel Maroufa Diabira of Mauritania. The defence also told the court that "the fact there was a genocide in Rwanda and other serious violations of international humanitarian law does not mean that the accused participated simply because he was a mayor, a Hutu and appointed by the President of the Republic". In his own testimony, Bagilishema told the court that he had always tried to protect persecuted Tutsis. But he said he did not have the means to counter attacks from outsiders ("Abakiga") who came from the north and were later joined by "the delinquents of Mabanza". Bagilishema said he had asked the authorities of the prefecture for reinforcements, but in vain. Bagilishema's trial started on October 27th, 1999, before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR. For this case, the Chamber was composed of judges Eric Mose of Norway (presiding), Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka and Mehmet Güney of Turkey. The three judges went to Rwanda just before the start of trial, to visit the sites of the alleged crimes. Prosecution in this case brought 18 witnesses, while the defence brought 15, including Bagilishema himself. Bagilishema, 46, was arrested on February 20th, 1999, in South Africa. He was mayor of Mabanza from February 1980 to July 1994. He is married with six children. AT/JC/PHD/FH (BS 0530E)