19.10.07 - ICTR/WEEKLY SUMMARY - FOUR TRIALS, ONE ARREST

   Arusha, 19 October 2007 (FH) - Four trials continued during the week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which also had one of their fugitives arrested, the former sub-préfect Dominique Ntawukuriryayo.    
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Sought since November 2006, Ntawukuriryayo was arrested in Carcassonne, in southern France, announced Interpol. Fourteen people are still sought by the ICTR within the framework of its mandate.
 
The trials which proceeded during the week were Military II, Government II, Rukundo and Simon Bikindi. All are in the defence phase of the case.
 
Military II, in progress since 20 September 2004, involves four officers including two generals. General Augustin Bizimungu was Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was Chief of Staff of the National Gendarmerie.
 
They are on trial alongside two officers of an elite battalion which was stationed in the capital, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu.
 
Accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, all have pleaded not guilty. It is General Bizimungu who is currently presenting his defence. The others will follow.
 
One of his witnesses this week was the Belgian priest Father Léopold Greindl, who lived in Rwanda for more than ten years. He would occasionally cross paths with General Bizimungu in Ruhengeri (northern Rwanda) where the priest directed a catholic higher education institute. Bizimungu, for his part, commanded the troops which operated in this zone.
                                                               
The testimony of Father Greindl was focused on the personality of the defendant. He described him as a man of "great social concern" who did not practice ethnic discrimination. The prosecutor alleges that he hated Tutsis.
 
The testimonies of General Bizimungu's defence witnesses were sometimes interrupted by the motions from the co-defendants.
 
Christopher Black, the Canadian lawyer of General Ndindiliyimana, requested an investigation into the work of the office of the prosecutor, alleging that it acts on command of the American government.
 
Black based himself on a book recently published by the spokesperson of the former prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, affirming that the ICTR dropped investigations into the war crimes allotted to the former Rwandan rebellion in 1994 due to pressure from Washington.
 
Black indicated that he was going to ask that the author of the book, Florence Hartmann, be called as a witness.
 
Previously, the lead prosecutor in this case, the Ivorian Alphonse Van, had addressed the court, deploring the relations which have often been strenuous between the defence and the prosecution. He called for more courtesy.
 
The Government II trial has been in progress since 6 November 2003. It involves four former ministers of the interim government in place during the genocide. It is the third defendant, the former Foreign Minister Jerome Bicamumpaka, who is presenting his defence.
 
Bicamumpaka is on trial alongside his former colleagues Casimir Bizimungu (health), Justin Mugenzi (trade) and Prosper Mugiraneza (civil service). Only Mugiraneza has not yet called witnesses for his defence.
 
Simon Bikindi is a renowned musician on trial since 18 September 2006 for inciting genocide through his songs. This week, he called Frodouard Serugendo, a defence investigator. He provided documents tending to give an alibi to the defendant. Next week a linguist called as an expert-witness should intervene on behalf of the defendant, before he himself takes the stand to conclude the defence case.
 
Emmanuel Rukundo, for his part, is a catholic priest on trial since 15 November 2006. In 1994, he was a military chaplain. He is charged with killing Tutsis in central Rwanda. He has pleaded not guilty. Three other priests have been indicted by the ICTR. He is also finishing his defence case.
 
Five trials are scheduled for next week: Bikindi, Government II, Military II, Karemera et al. and Butare.
 
The Karemera et al. trial involves three former officials of the former governing party; Butare, six defendants originating from this area in the south of the country, including the only woman held by the ICTR, the former Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko.
 
AT/PB/MM
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