Arusha, November 6, 2003 (FH)-The prosecution in the trial of former four cabinet ministers of the 1994 Rwandan interim government began its case on Thursday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The case groups former cabinet ministers in the trial known as prosecutor versus Bizimungu and allies.

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The accused in the case are former minister of Health, Casimir Bizimungu, the former minister of Foreign Affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of Commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of Public Service. They are charged with six counts of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions. In the opening statement, the prosecutor, Paul Ng'arua (Kenya) stated that the prosecution would show the court without reasonable doubt that each of the accused incurred both individual and joint criminal liability for acts of the entire government in so far as they acted in furtherance of a joined criminal enterprise to kill Tutsis. “They took affirmative actions to encourage the killings, as well as to conceal, mischaracterize or rationalize the killings of Tutsis,” Ng'arua said. All four accused failed in their legal duty arising from the national laws of Rwanda, as well as international law resulting in joint and individual criminal responsibility, the chamber was told. In his narration that was accompanied with video footage on the events of the 1994 genocide, the prosecutor termed the four suspects as people who “were in the most powerful positions in the land and they enjoyed the pomp and glory that goes along with high offices. ”They exercised individually and jointly as government de jure and de facto authority and as such wielded substantial power and influence over the local population in Rwanda. Furthermore the prosecution will demonstrate that since October 1990, there was a conspiracy to kill Tutsis in Rwanda and the four accused joined the conspiracy. The four, Ng'arua added were responsible for the well orchestrated wide spread and systematic mass murder of 1270,000 people in Rwanda in 1994. “The assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana was indeed the spark that ignited the explosive climate that culminated in what is now referred to as “the 1994 genocide”, Ng'arua submitted. Ng'arua told the chamber, the prosecution would show that from April 9th, wherever the accused and other ministers went on their campaigns, they were soon followed by blood-letting and displacement of Tutsi population. “The prosecutor will show that there was power in their hands which they chose to use to kill Tutsis and further their political careers,” Ng'arua said. After Ng'arua completed his statement, a UN investigator Maxwell Nkole (from Zambia) took the witness stand. The case is before Trial Chamber Two where Judge Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) is presiding assisted by judges Lee Muthoga (Kenya) and Khalida Rashid Khan (Pakistan)PJ/AT/FH (GVII'1106e)