01.07.07 - ICTR/BIKINDI - THE DEFENCE OF SINGER SIMON BIKINDI TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER

  Arusha, 01 July 2007 (FH) - The defence of the famous Rwandan singer Simon Bikindi, notably accused, by the means of his works, to have encouraged the genocide, will begin on 24 September at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), it was learned on Thursday from legal source.   
2 min 9Approximate reading time

Initially scheduled for 11 June, the beginning of the defence case was deferred twice following a change of lead counsel.
 
Today 53 years of age, this very popular musician in his time, and who still sang at the time of his arrest in July 2001 in the Netherlands, is also accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide or complicity of genocide, murder and persecution.
 
The defence should be completed during the next session which will last until 9 November, according to a court decision issued Tuesday and communicated Thursday to the Hirondelle news agency.
 
The accused songs are Twasezereye ingoma ya cyami (We said good-bye to the monarchy) performed for the first time in 1987, at the time of the 25th anniversary of independence, Akabyutso (the awakening  and Impuruza (Alarm) composed in 1992.
 
Those are the original titles of the author but, for the Rwandan commoner who heard them almost everyday on the airwaves of the Radio-télévision libre des mille collines (RTLM) in 1993-1994, the two last songs are respectively entitled "Nanga Abahutu" (I hate the Hutu) and "Bene Sebahinzi" (Descendants of the father of the farmers).
 
In the first song, Twasezereye ingoma ya cyami, Bikindi, in explicit terms, fustigates the monarchy reversed in 1959, celebrates the end of feudalism and colonization and the regaining of independence in 1962.

The denunciation of the feudal-monarchical regime returns in the two other songs, but in a highly literary and sometimes sibylline register where the author mixes several styles.
 
In "Nanga Abahutu", he says his hatred of the stingy Hutus, the Hutu with a short memory, the Hutu who scorned other Hutus...
 
In the last song, the longest of the three, a mystic advises a man who had come to consult him on the unity of the "sons of the father of the farmers"
 
Last 14 and 15 February, following a conflict with his lead counsel, the Kenyan Wilfred Nderitu from which he has cut ties since, Bikindi, in person, took in hand the defence of his songs in cross-examination of a Rwandan linguist, Jean de Dieu Karangwa, called as an expert of the prosecution.
 
According to the expert, who recognizes "the talent and aura" of his compatriot, these compositions are neither more nor less than a call of arms to Hutus, "the sons of the ancestor of the farmers", to unite against Tutsis, traditionally regarded as cattle breeders.
 
The defendant, who also intends to call at least one expert witness, declared that for him, "the sons of the father of the farmers are indistinctly made up by this mass of Hutu peasants, Tutsis or Twas".
 
The Chamber which will have to decide between them is chaired by Argentine Judge Inés Weinberg de Roca, assisted by the Cameroonian Florence Rita Arrey and the Czech Robert Fremr.
 
The prosecution phase of the trial ended on 22 February 2007 after the appearance of 20 prosecution witnesses.
 
For the second stage of the trial, the defence team will be lead by the South African Andreas O'Shea, while the Cameroonian William Egbe will continue to lead the prosecution.
 
The trial itself began on 18 September 2006.
 
ER/MM/AT
 
© Hirondelle News Agency