03.01.08 - BELGIUM/RWANDA - DECISION AT THE END OF JANUARY FOR THE FOURTH RWANDAN TRIAL IN BELGIUM

Brussels, 3 January 2008 (FH) - The court chambers of Brussels last week deferred to 25 January the examination of the charges against Ephrem Nkezabera, former officer of the Interahamwe militias implicated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
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His lawyer, Gilles Vanderbeck, was before an Assize court and was thus unreachable.

For the first time in this kind of procedure, the prosecution will accuse a suspect of crimes of genocide and rapes. During the three "Rwanda trials" already held in Belgium, only definitions of crimes of international humanitarian law and war crimes had been retained.

Ephrem Nkezabera, 55, is a former official for the Commercial Bank of Rwanda. He was in 1994 president of the commission of economic affairs and finances within the national committee of the Interamhamwe. He also formed part of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the party of President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Detained by Belgium since 2004, he acknowledged the majority of the facts which are accused against him in his role in the actions of the Interamhamwe militias. These militias took part in the massacre of Tutsis and moderated Hutus during the 1994 genocide which resulted, according to the UN, in more than 800 000 deaths.

The civil parties, the federal prosecutor and the defence will express themselves on 25 January on the possibility of transferring Ephrem Nkezabera before the Assize court of Brussels-Capital Region.

Three trials (2001, 2005 and 2007) related to the Rwandan genocide, and having led to prison convictions, have already been held in Belgium before this Court.

BF/PB/MM
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