Arusha,16 March, 2009(FH)-The trial of  former Commander of Ngoma Military Barracks, Liutenant Idelphonse Hategekimana, opened Monday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with the prosecution claiming that the army officer was responsible for large scale killings of ethnic Tutsis in Butare, southern Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide.

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"He [accused] ordered Hutu civilians, Interahamwe and soldiers to kill Tutsis in Butare," alleged Senior Trial Attorney, William Egbe.

The prosecution further added that the accused physically participated in the violent acts.

"He also ordered Ngoma camp soldiers to rape Tutsi girls and women before killing them'', claimed the Cameroonian trial attorney, underscoring that the accused armed the killers with guns, grenades and machetes.

The prosecution alleges that Hategekimana was also responsible for abduction of 25 Tutsis from Maison Generalice and their subsequent killings.

About 15 per cent of those killed in the April-July were in Butare, according to Egbe. It is estimated that about one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century.

The prosecution is expected to present to 24 witnesses.

First witness, Felix Bide, an investigator with the ICTR, started his testimony Monday.

The accused is charged with genocide, in the alternative complicity to genocide, murder and rape as crimes against humanity. He has denied the charges.

Hategekimana was among five targetted by prosecution for transfer to Rwanda to stand trial there, but turned down by both the first instance and appeal chambers on grounds that he may not get a fair trial.

Lt. Hategekimana was arrested in Brazzaville, Congo, on February 16, 2003 and transferred to the United Nation Detention Facilities in Arusha two days later.


© Hirondelle News Agency