Arusha, February 27, 2004 (FH) – The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will on Monday listen to the closing arguments in the trialof the former minister of finance in the Rwandan interim government in place during the genocide. Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, 54, is charged with three counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for the massacres of Tutsis in 1994 in his home town of Kibuye (western Rwanda).

1 min 4Approximate reading time

He pleads not guilty. The prosecution alleges that in June 1994, Ndindabahizi orchestrated a “campaign of extermination of the civilian Tutsi population” of Kibuye. According to the indictment, the former minister drove around the communes of Gitesi, Gishyita and Mabanza, publicly inciting the Hutu population to kill their Tutsi neighbours. It is also claimed that he distributed weapons and led attacks in certain massacre sites. Ndindabahizi's trial started on September 1, 2003 and auditioned 15 and 18 witnesses for the prosecution and the defence respectively. The trial is one of the fastest conducted by the ICTR. The accused appeared in person as the last witness. For one whole week, he reiterated his innocence, arguing that he in fact called for the violence to cease and that he even arrested some killers. Bernard Lugan, a French historian and a specialist on Rwanda, said that Ndindabahizi accepted the ministerial post in order to save his life. “Itwas a matter of life and death”, said the historian in defence of the minister. The accused is defended by two French lawyers, Pascal Besnier and Guillaume Marçais. The prosecution is led by Charles Adeogun-PhillipsThe trial is taking place in trial Chamber one of the ICTR composed of Erik Møse, from Norway (presiding), Khalida Rashid Khan from Pakistan and Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda. . KN/CE/ER/AT/FH (NB''0227e)