Arusha, September 2, 2003 (FH) – The joint trial of four former high-ranking Rwandan officials is set to begin on November 3, 2003 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This is according to the judicial calendar published last week by the tribunal.

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The so-called “Government I” groups together three former kingpins of former president Juvenal Habyarimana's party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), and a former member of the Republican and Democratic Movement (MDR). All four were either former cabinet ministers under Habyarimana's rule, or during the interim government put in place during the 1994 genocide and massacres in Rwanda that claimed one million Tutsis and members of the opposition. The accused are Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who was the former president of MRND as well as minister of justice, the former minister of internal affairs as well as vice-president of MRND, Edouard Karemera, the former secretary general of MRND, minister of public works and later to become the speaker of the interim national assembly, Joseph Nzirorera, and the former minister of primary and secondary education and a member of MDR, André Rwamakuba. All have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. The MRND was dissolved in 2001 by the Rwandan judicial authorities on the grounds that it had played a key role in the planning and execution of the genocide. The MDR on its part was accused of “divisionism” by Rwandan authorities and banned in 2003. The ICTR only has the competence to try individuals and not institutions like governments, the army and political parties. Mathieu Ngirumpatse was arrested on June 11th 1998 in Mali, Edouard Karemera and Joseph Nzirorera on June 5th in Togo and Benin respectively, while André Rwamakuba was arrested on October 21st in Namibia. Another trial of four other former ministers is scheduled to begin shortly. Dubbed the “Government II” trial, it groups together the former minister of health, Casimir Bizimungu, former minister of foreign affairs Jérôme Bicamumpaka, that of commerce, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of public service. KN/ER/CE/FH (GVI' 0902e)