Arusha, March 8, 2003 (FH) – A famous Rwandan musician being held at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Monday pleaded not guilty to six counts of genocide related charges. In the amended indictment, Simon Bikindi, 49, is particularly accused of using his music to incite hatred of Tutsis in the run-up to the 1994 genocide which claimed an estimated one million people.

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He is also accused together with other top military and civilian official of helping train Interahamwe militia with the sole aim of eliminating Tutsis. The indictment details a number of killings that it says the accused played a leading role in. The prosecution maintains that there was a well laid-out plan to eliminate Tutsis and Hutu members of the opposition and that “Simon Bikindi's musicalcompositions and live performances and recruitment, training and command of Interahamwe, were elements of the plan to mobilize civilian militias to destroy, in whole or in part, the Tutsi”. The tribunal read out six counts that include genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, murder and persecution as crimes against humanity as well as conspiracy to commit genocide. Most of the crimes were allegedly committed in Kigali and the north western town of Gisenyi. In Bikindi's first initial appearance, on April 04, 2001, the count of persecution was not included. The amended indictment says that Bikindi “consulted with President Juvenal Habyarimana, Minister of Youth and Sports Callixte Nzabonimana and MRND-aligned military authorities on song lyrics” before releasing his music, which was widely played on the extremist Radio Télévision Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM) and the government owned Radio Rwanda. . It continues that even after the interim government had fled to the former Zaire, Bikindi continued to compose music that incited the Hutu population against the Tutsi. When judge Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis asked the tall heavy-set man smartly turned out in a grey suit as to how he pleaded, Simon Bikindi did not hesitate: “The truth shall prevail over lies, love shall prevail over hatred. I plead not guilty to all charges”, he stated. Bikindi was arrested in Leiden (The Netherlands) on July 12, 2001 and transferred to the ICTR one week later. He is defended by Wilfred Nderitu from Kenya. The date for the beginning of Bikindi's trial has not been set yet. KN/CE/FH (BK'0308e)