09.10.08 - ICTR/MILITARY II - MILITARY II TRIAL: LAST DEFENDANT BEGINS HIS DEFENCE 20 OCTOBER

Arusha, 9 October 2008 (FH) - Captain Innocent Sagahutu, accused of genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will begin his defence on 20 October, the last of the four defendants of the "Military II" case, reports Hirondelle Agency.
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Sagahutu commanded, during the genocide committed against mainly ethnic Tutsis in 1994, a squadron of the reconnaissance battalion. His former immediate superior, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, who was with the head of this elite unit, left the witness stand Wednesday evening at the end of his three days of his own defence testimony.

The two men are on trial with the former Chief of Staff of Army, General Augustin Bizimungu and the former Head of National Police, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana.

Accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the four officers have all pleaded not guilty.

They are being prosecuted not only for acts which they would have committed in person but also for crimes committed by their men. "They knew or had reasons to know that their subordinates were about to committed or were committing crimes but did not do anything to prevent, stop or punish them", claims the prosecutor.

The three officers, who have already completed their defence, did not seek to deny that elements of the army and gendarmerie were involved in the massacres.

They, on the other hand, pleaded that they could not prevent the crimes nor punish the perpetrators because they were not informed.

The trial, undoubtedly one of the most important in the history of the ICTR, began in September 2004.
ER/PB/MM/SC

© Hirondelle News Agency