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Arusha, March 30, 2007 (FH) – Two generals of the former Rwandan Army accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes will begin their defense in mid-April before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   On trial since September 20, 2004 with two other officers, Gens. Augustin Bizimungu and Augustin Ndindiliyimana were respectively Chief of the General Staff of the Army and of the Police in 1994.  They have pleaded not-guilty.   Often called “Military II,” their trial is the second which has grouped together high level officials in the former Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF), after that of the former director of the Cabinet at the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and three other officers, who have reached the stage of final pleas.  They will take place between May 28 and June 1.   Augustin Bizimungu and Augustin Ndindiliyimana are on trial with Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, respectively Commander and Second Commander of the Reconnaissance Batallion, one of the elite units of the RAF.   The Prosecutor alleges that the defendants had an “enormous responsibility” in the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis in 1994.   “They used their military power against the Tutsi civilian population under the pretext of fighting against the FPR” (former rebel group currently in power against Kigali), the prosecution alleges.  The prosecution has called 71 witnesses to support its case.   The defendants will present their defense starting April 16.   The defense otherwise will start in April in the trial of Simeon Nshamihigo, a former deputy prosecutor in Cyangugu (southwest Rwanda) being tried for massacres of Tutsis in numerous localities in this prefecture, specifically in churches.   Nshamihigo was arrested in Tanzania on May 19, 2001 while he was an investigator on the defense team for a defendant before the ICTR.  His trial started on September 25, 2006.  The prosecutor closed its case on January 29, 2007 after having called 24 witnesses.  The defense, led by two Canadian lawyers, Mr. Denis Turcotte and Mr. Henri Benoit, will call defense witnesses starting April 23.   Also on the Tribunal’s agenda for April are three other trials which have been at the defense stage for several months.  They include the Butare, Government II, and Zigiranyirazo trials.   The Butare trial (south of Rwanda), involving six defendants, began in June 2001.  The defense has been presenting its witnesses since January 2005.  The fourth defendant is currently presenting his case.  Suspended since March 27, hearings will begin again on April 16.   Also on the docket is the Government II trial, which concerns four former ministers of the interim government in place during the genocide.  It was suspended last February.  Here, it is the second accused who is presenting his defense.   Finally on the calendar is the former prefect Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother-in-law of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, who has mounted his defense during the month until the 20th.  His trial started on October 3, 2005.  He has presented his defense since the end of October 2006.   In Brussels, the trial of Bernard Ntuyahaga in front of the Court of assises will start on 19th of April. He is accused for the murder of nine belgium UN soldiers the 7th of april 1994 in Kigali.   AT/PB/KD   © Hirondelle News Agency