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ICTR/MILITARY II - THE CHIEF OF THE FORMER RWANDAN ARMY OPENS HIS DEFENCE ON MONDAY Arusha, 13 April 2007 (FH) – The Chief of staff of the former Forces of the Rwandan Army (FRA), General Augustin Bizimungu, opens his defence on Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bizimungu, 55 years old, was appointed Chief of Staff in mid-april 1994, during the genocide. He is accused together with three other officers, among them his counterpart in the Gendarmerie, General Agustin Ndindiliyimana, in the case called “Military II”. The Chamber ordered the Accused to present their defence one at a time, starting with Bizimungu. The other Accused in this trial are Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, Commander and Second-in-Command of the Reconnaissance battalion, one of the elite units of FRA, respectively. This joint case started on 20 September 2004. The Prosecutor closed his case last December after having cited 71 witnesses. Among them was the former Commander of the United Nations forces in Rwanda, the Canadian General Roméo Dallaire. He testified in Ottawa via video-conference. The Prosecutor alleges that four of the Accused have “a huge responsibility” in the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994. They are also accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. According to the Prosecutor, Army officers answer to charges for personal acts as well as acts committed by their subalterns. “They turned their military power against Tutsis civilians under the pretext of fighting against the RPF (the former rebel movement, currently in power in Kigali), the Prosecution affirms. All of them have pled not guilty. It is the second trial which gathers FRA officers after the case of the former Cabinet director in the Ministry of Defence, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and three others, which will be soon in closing arguments. They will be from 28 May to 1 June. AT/PB/CV © Hirondelle News Agency