Arusha, 26 May 2008 (FH) - The prosecutor requested Monday life in prison against the famous Rwandan singer, Simon Bikindi, accused before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to have, through his works, incited the 1994 genocide, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The first artist indicted before the UN Court, Bikindi faces six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

"Mr. Bikindi deserves a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of his life," stated William Egbe, the prosecuting attorney in his closing arguments of the trial which opened in September, 2006.

"His songs incited the genocide", added the Cameroonian attorney, denouncing the links of the musician with the infamous Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which broadcast the messages of hate.

RTLM very often played Bikindi's music, who was one of the founding members of the hate radio.

Mr Egbe referred to as aggravating circumstances the social position of the defendant, the suffering of the victims and the violence as well as the humiliating nature of the alleged crimes adding:" There are no extenuating circumstances in the present case".

The lead defence counsel, Andrea O' Shea pointed to the "contradictions" in the prosecution's testimonies and invited the judges to "return Bikindi to his music".

The British lawyer praised the very the high-quality of the defence witnesses, stressing that some of them were ethnic Tutsis, who Bikindi helped to save their lives.

The defendant spoke last to claim his innocence.

"I have no doubt that the judges realized that they have, in front of them, an innocent person", he declared before the Chamber.

At the heart of this trial are three songs in Rwandan interpreted in divergent ways by the prosecution and the defence.

The prosecution alleged that they are calls to unite Hutus in order to get rid of Tutsis, while Bikindi affirms to sing only about peace and democracy in his accused works.

During the trial, each party called its Rwandan expert to support its interpretation of the songs, whose texts are sometimes complex.

Bikindi is also accused of having taken part in the massacres of Tutsis in the prefecture of Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, from where he reigns.

He was arrested in The Netherlands in July 2001.

The Chamber is presided by the Argentine Judge Ines Weinberg de Roca.


© Hirondelle News Agency