Arusha, November 25, 2003 (FH) - Genocide suspect Protais Zigiranyirazo, and a brother- in-law of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana on Tuesday made his second initial appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The suspect appeared before Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR and pleaded not guilty to five counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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Zigiranyirazo had already made the first initial appearance in October 2001 but the indictment was amended prompting the second appearance. Zigiranyirazo, 65, was initially charged two counts of crimes against humanity. The amended indictment accuses him of committing genocide against Tutsis between April and July 1994 in Kigali and Gisenyi. The charges were read to the suspect by Judge Lloyd George Williams (Saint Kitts and Nevis). The prosecutor accuses Zigiranyirazo of conspiring with influential and powerful persons including Habyarimanas widow Agathe Kanziga, colonel Theoneste Bagasora, Anatole Nsengiyumva (Army Commander of Gisenyi region) and Jean Bosco Barayagiza (Director of political Affairs in foreign Affairs Ministry and radio RTLM founder) to commit genocide. According to the Prosecutor, the accused who was a powerful and influential businessman was instrumental in initiating the formation of Interahamwe (youth wing of MRND) in Gisenyi. He also participated and facilitated the training and arming of Interahamwe. The accused allegedly led a convoy of armed presidential guard soldiers, gendarmes and Interahamwe who attacked and killed approximately 1000 Tutsis who had sought refuge on Gashihe or Kesho hill in Gaseke commune (Gisenyi prefecture, western Rwanda). According to the prosecutor, between April and July 1994, the accused ordered the establishment of roadblock near his three residences so that they would be used in the campaign to kill Tutsis. He also ordered his son Jean Marie Makiza, to shoot death three gendarmes identified as Tutsi at a road block near his residence in Giciye Commune in May 1994. Popularly known as "Mr. Z," the accused was also a prefect of Ruhengeri (north) for ten years before becoming a prominent businessman. He was arrested on July 26th, 2001 in Belgium and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facilities in Arusha on October 3rd . His trial is expected to begin in April 2004. PJ/AT/FH (Zi'1125e)