Arusha, 22 August 2008 (AFP) - The trial of four Rwandan Army Officers, prosecuted for murder of 13 clergymen during the 1994 genocide in central Rwanda, which opened on Tuesday, was deferred to 2 September before a military tribunal of Kigali.

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The four accused officers are: General Wilson Gumisiriza, Major Wilson Ukwishaka and Captains John Butera and Dieudonné Rukeba, former members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the former rebel movement currently in power in Rwanda.

"The trial has been adjourned until 2 September and will probably resume with the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses", Clement Ntihemuka, Counsel of the retired captain, Rukeba, told Hirondelle Agency.

On Wednesday, on the second day of the trial, General Gumisiriza and Major Ukwishaka rejected the charges brought against them whereas on the opening day, the two army captains reiterated their guilty plea made on 17June, when they made their initial appearance before the military tribunal.

The General and Major claimed that they did not know that their subordinates were going to shoot and kill these clergymen.

General Gumisiriza further added that after having learned of the murders committed on 5 June 1994, he initiated an investigation of which the military prosecution used the information to continue and complete its case.

The two captains are accused of murder as war crimes, while the other two higher ranking officers are prosecuted for complicity in the murders.

Among the clergymen killed, almost all of them Hutus were the Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, Bishop of Byumba (northern Rwanda) Joseph Ruzindana, and Bishop of Kabgayi, Thaddee Nsengiyumva, then president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.

The 4 officers were arrested on 11 June, after, according to the Rwandan army, following joint investigations by the Rwandan Prosecutor General and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).


© Hirondelle News Agency