Arusha, 22 August 2008(FH)-The trial of a former Rwandan Army Colonel, Ephrem Setako, accused of committing war crimes during the 1994 genocide is scheduled to begin on Monday before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The colonel had entered a not guilty plea in November, 2004 before the United Nations war crimes tribunal. He was arrested in February 2004 in the Netherlands in a center for asylum seekers.

Lt. Col. Setako, 59, is charged with six counts of genocide, or complicity in genocide, murder and extermination as crimes against humanity,war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention.

The prosecution alleges that Colonel Setako planned, instigated, ordered and participated in the killing of Tutsi civilians in Ruhengeri and Kigali-ville prefectures. He is also accused of distributing arms to members of the Rwanda armed forces, the Presidential Guard, the Interahamwe, the Civil Defence Forces and other soldiers engaged in the killings.

Colonel Setako is also said to have committed the war crimes in concert with others who are also facing charges against before the Tribunal.

Setako was also shareholder of the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which encouraged the massacres of Tutsis in their 1994 broadcasts. The accused is defended by American Professor Lennox Hinds and Cainnech Lussia-Berdou of Canada, who is a co-counsel.

Professor Hinds previously was lead counsel for former Mayor of Mukingo commune, Juvenal Kajelijeli, who was sentenced to imprisonment for remainder of his life in December 2003 but the Appeals Chamber reduced the sentence to 45 years in May 2005.

This is the second trial to start this year before the UN Court. The other trial which started in May was of Callixte Kalimanzira, who was acting Minister for Interior, during the 1994 genocide, which killed about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, according to the UN estimates.

Since its establishment, the tribunal has rendered 36 judgements, including five acquittals.


© Hirondelle News Agency