Muhanga, 30 June 2008 (FH) - A prosecutor at the Attorney General's Office until 2005, Leonard Hategekimana,50,has been enjoined in the case of former Rwandan Minister for Justice, Agnes Ntamabyariro indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity before the Court of Nyarugenge in Kigali, reports Hirondelle Agency. The court had moved temporarily to Muhanga, southern province, to hear the case.

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The ex-minister, who is on trial for almost a year now, has pleaded not guilty.

Deputy prosecutor in the former prefecture of Gitarama (now Muhanga, southern province) during the 1994 genocide, Hategekimana allegedly conspired in the murder of the Butare Governor, Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, and a young man in Ruvumer. The former minister is also facing the charge of murdering Habyarimana.

The prosecution claims that Hategekimana allegedly also distributed guns and supervised road blocks, where ethnic Tutsis were stopped and killed.

Hategekimana considers the indictment as important because he was "mukiga" (a native of the region of former President Juvenal Habyariama, in northern Rwanda). President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down by unknown assailants on April 6, 1994 as it was approaching the capital, Kigali, which sparked the genocide. He was returning from a peace meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

"He[Hategekimana] temporally assumed the duties of the prosecutor during the genocide, he presented himself to the prison of Gitarama with a warrant, signed as Agnes Ntamabyariro, Minister for Justice,''a prosecution witness claimed, who was present at the time of the crime.

In 2005, during the Gacaca court investigation phase at the Gitarama stadium, Hategekimana allegedly admitted to have distributed three guns and taking part in a mission in Ruvumera.

"He is free for now. For the moment, he is only named as an accomplice of Ntamabyariro in the murder of the Governor of Butare," stated Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance of Nyarugenge, who heads the prosecution in the trial.

Ntamabyariro is also accused of holding meetings to plan and organize genocide in Nyanza and Kibuye, in her native prefecture. She allegedly also participated in campaigns to distribute weapons.

The former minister is the only member of the interim government in power during the genocide to be tried by a Rwandan court.

The ex-justice boss was arrested in Zambia in 1997, where she had been in exile.


© Hirondelle News Agency