Arusha, August 15, 2003 (FH)Juvenal Rugambarara, the former mayor of Bicumbi, Kigali Rural province, pleaded not guilty on Friday during his initial appearance at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Rugambara, who arrested early this week in Uganda, faces nine charges: Genocide or in the alternative, complicity to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, three counts of crimes against humanity including rape, and two counts of serious violations of the Geneva conventions.

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Rugambarara, who formerly worked in the medical profession, was appointed mayor of Bicumbi in 1993. He was arrested August 11, 2003 in Uganda and transferred to the ICTR detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania two days later. The prosecutor alleges in a 30-page indictment that from 1990 through about July 1994, military personnel, members of the government, political leaders and civil servants and other personalities, conspired among themselves and others to work out a plan with the intent to exterminate the civilian Tutsi population and eliminate members of the opposition, so that they could remain in power. "From the 10th of April, 1994, Tutsi refugees gathered at the hill at Munini cellule, Mwulire sector. The same day they were attacked by Interahamwe transported to the location by Juvenal Rugambarara", the indictment reads in part. It continues that Rugambarara, in conjunction with another, solicited and organised the arrival of more Interahamwe and Presidential Guards. "By the 18th of April, almost all of the refugees had been killed. Rugambarara took an active part in these attacks and did nothing to stop the killings". The indictment continues that the former mayor conspired with two other senior officials in the province to plan, instigate and carry out the killings in the province. Laurent Semanza, a former mayor Bicumbi, had been replaced by Rugambarara in 1993. Semanza had held the post for 20 years. He was found guilty of genocide by the ICTR and sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 2003. He has appealed his sentence. Another member of Rugambarara's alleged accomplices was Paul Bisengimana, the former mayor of neighbouring Gikoro commune. He was arrested in Mali, December 4, 2001 and is awaiting trial. Rugambarara, who looked very dishevelled with unkempt hair during his initial appearance, was represented Bharat Chadah, a court-appointed duty counsel. He appeared in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR before Judge Jai Ram Reddy from Fiji. His arrest brings the number of those in UN custody in Arusha to 56 people. KN/FH(RR'0815E)