Arusha, October 3, 2003(FH) – The trial of Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former mayor of Rusumo commune, Kibungo Prefecture, Rwanda will resume on Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Gacumbitsi, 56, is charged with five counts which include genocide or in the alternative complicity in genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity in relation with massacres of Tutsis perpetrated in several locations in his commune during the 1994 genocide.

1 min 2Approximate reading time

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The trial will resume with the presentation of defense witnesses. The lead defense counsel Mr. Kouengua from Cameroon said on Thursday that he intended to call “between twenty and twenty three witnesses”. Fifteen prosecution witnesses completed their testimonies in one month July 28, when the trial began, to August 28, making it one of the fastest trials at the Tribunal. The prosecutor, Richard Karegesya of Uganda, said during his opening statements that the genocide suspect was responsible for the biggest massacre that took place in Nyarabuye, which left about 20,000 people dead. “On the 15th of April, 1994, Gacumbitsi ordered and participated himself in the massacre of Nyarabuye. […] He came back on the 16th and the 17th to supervise the killings which he executed with efficiency the plan of exterminating Tutsis,” the prosecutor said. Defense counsel Mr. Kouengua, assisted by Ms Anne Mbattang from Cameroon, argue that most of the killings at Nyarabuye were orchestrated by the RPF, the Tutsi-dominated rebel movement, now in power in Kigali. The trial is before Trial Chamber Three, which is presided over by Senegalese judge and ICTR vice-president Andresia Vaz, assisted by Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji and Serguei Aleckseivich Egorov from Russia. SV/CE/FH (GA0310e)