Arusha, 2 May, 2008 (FH) -- The much awaited trial of Callixte Kalimanzira, a former high ranking Rwandan civil servant accused of 1994 genocide, will now begin on 5 May. The decision was announced during a status conference on Wednesday which was presided by Judge Dennis Byron of Saint-Kitts and Nevis, who is also president of the ICTR.

3 min 41Approximate reading time

This trial was scheduled to have opened last Monday, but it was deferred because of the difficulties in the composition of the Chamber.

Kalimanzira, 55, an agronomist by training, was director of the rural development section at the presidency, secretary-general and then, cabinet director at the ministry of the interior. From April to May 1994, he directed the ministry of the interior on interim basis.

The defendant surrendered himself on 8 November 2005 to the ICTR, which had indicted him four months earlier. The conditions of his arrest remain obscure.

The prosecutor affirms that he was "very close" to the then interim President Theodore Sindikubwabo as well as Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, originating, like him, from the prefecture of Butare, in southern Rwanda.

Kalimanzira is accused of having supervised attacks against Tutsis on Kabuye hill around 23 April 1994. According to the prosecutor, the defendant, before the attack, encouraged the victims, estimated at more than 20, 000 to take refuge on the hill, by promising them protection and food. Around 5 June 1994, Kalimanzira, who has pleaded not guilty, invited the population to eliminate Tutsis, including those who were still in the uterus of their mothers.

The last trial to have been open is that of Abbot Hormisdas Nsengimana, a former vice-chancellor of the Christ the King College in Nyanza, southern Rwanda, on 22 June 2007.

The trial of three top former ruling party the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), known as the “Karemera Trial” accused of the 1994 genocide, continued this week.

A former Belgian politician, Alain de Brouwer, was testifying for the defence of the former MRND Vice President, Edward Karemera.

He described the former MRND leader as an open-minded person who had brought new political culture to Rwanda by proposing deep political reforms, including introduction of the multi-party system in 1991.

A former political adviser charged with Africa within the Christian Democrat International (CDI), a coalition of European political parties, de Brouwer, 69, testified that he had regular contacts with leaders of the former governing party in Rwanda in the 1990s. Within this capacity he met on several occasions Karemera and his two other co-defendants-- defendants are Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nziororera, MRND president and secretary-general respectively. All three have pleaded not guilty.

The witness added that Karemera had called for political dialogue in Rwanda and the rejection of war. The government was then at war with the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who are currently in power in Kigali. Karemera had said that "RPF can entirely find its place in the multi-party system", added the witness.

Alain de Brouwer said that Ngirumpatse was responsible for the introduction of the amnesty laws when he was Minister of Justice in 1991. He saluted Ngirumpatse for his determination "to continue to support the Arusha Accords and their application towards and against all odds".

The Arusha Peace Accords were signed in August 1993 between the Rwandan government and the RPF. However, they were never put in place because of the start of the genocide in April 1994.

The prosecution claims that Nzirorera formed part of the extremist politicians, opposed to these accords which envisaged, inter alia, the division of power between the principal political forces of the country.

The "Karemera Trial", which had to be re-tried, started in September 2005. It is expected to continue beyond 31 December, 2008 the scheduled date for the end of all the first instance trials as directed by the UN Security Council.

Alain de Brouwer began his testimony on Monday. He continued it Tuesday afternoon. The trial continues next week.

In the joint trial of so called “Government II” of four former Rwandan ministers in the interim government during the 1994 genocide, the Presiding Judge Khalida Khan from Pakistan on Monday was compelled to suspend testimony of a recalled prosecution’s protected witness only known by code “GFA”, pending his counseling by the Registry.

The Judge issued the order following a heated debate between defense and prosecution over who should advise ” GFA” over repercussions of his testimony in case it was proved that he lied the court under an oath.

The Judge directed that “GFA” be guided by the Registry and reminded of Rule 91 of the ICTR statute, which clearly stipulates sanctioning if proven that the witness gave false evidence before the UN Court. The witness is now expected to continue his testimony on Monday.

In the week, wife of former Civil Service Minister Prosper Mugiraneza was also in the court room to testify for her husband, but the testimony had to be cut-short after emotions overcame her as she broke down in tears.

The other three ministers implicated in the trial are: Casimir Bizimungu (Health) and Justin Mugenzi (Commerce) and Jerome Bicamumpaka (Foreign Affairs). All have pleaded not guilty.

A protected witness only known by code name “GAA” was sentenced to nine months in prison in December for contempt of the court. He was the first witness to be sentenced for the offence, out of approximately 2, 000 witnesses who have already testified before the UN tribunal, which was established in November 1994 by the UN Security Council to try key suspects of the 1994 killings, which according to the UN estimates claimed lives of about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Witness “GAA” admitted that he was encouraged to make a false testimony during the appeal trial, in 2005, of Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, the former minister for higher education, sentenced to life in prison. The trial continues next week.


© Hirondelle News Agency