Arusha, March 26th, (FH) – The trial of former counsellor of Gishyita sector (Gishita commune, Kibuye province), will begin on Monday at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Mikaeli Muhimana, popularly known as “Mika”, 54, faces four counts : genocide or in the alternative, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity (rape and murder).

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He has pleaded not guilty. The prosecution maintains that Muhimana personally killed many women in Gishyita and the surrounding areas after having raped and publicly humiliated them. He is also accused of having distributed weapons to Interahamwe militia, widely believed to have spearheaded the genocide. The indictment points out that Muhimana took part in many massacres in his area and singles out Mubuga and Mugonero churches and the hills of Bisesero. Muhimana is the first municipal counsellor to be brought before the tribunal. Another former counsellor of the neighbouring Mubuga sector, Vincent Rutaganira, is awaiting trial. Six people hailing from Kibuye have already been found guilty of the massacres committed in that area and sentenced by the ICTR. They include the former prefect of the province, Clement Kayishema, the former minister of information, Eliezer Niyitegeka and the former pastor of the Adventist church, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana. The trial of another person hailing from Kibuye, the former minister of finance Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, is over and he is waiting for the verdict. Mika Muhimana was a businessman before he was elected to head Gishyita sector in 1988. He was arrested on November 8 1999 in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and transferred the same day to the UN detention facilities in Arusha. He has since then converted to Islam and chosen the name Issa. The accused is represented by Professor James Nyabirungu Mwene Songa and Kazadi Kabimba both from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The prosecution will be led by Charles Adeogun-Phillips. The trial will conducted in Trial Chamber Three of the ICTR composed of Judge Khalida Rashid Khan of Pakistan (presiding), Lee Gaciuga Muthoga of Kenya and Emile Francis Short. KN/ER/CE/FH(MH''0326e)