Arusha, 20 February, 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.

2 min 17Approximate reading time

"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 the abduction of 25 Tutsis from Maison Generalice and their subsequent killings.

The prosecution is expected to present 24 witnesses.

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.

In another development, the second defence witness in the case of former Rwandan lawyer, accused of contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Leonidas Nshogoza, Thursday alleged that she, together with another witness, received up-keep allowances for their families from the accused before they traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, in 2005 to retract their testimonies before the UN Appeals Court.

The witness, dubbed "A7" to protect her identity for security reasons, revealed that she and, another protected witness codenamed "GAA", received money from Nshogoza in Kigali before they traveled to retract their testimonies.

‘'Nshogoza gave me money to leave at home for my family,'' The witness told Trial Chamber III, presided by Pakistan Judge, Khalida Khan.

On the other hand, the witness also admitted that the Tribunal's Witness and Victim Support Section (WVSS) also gave them part of their up-keep allowances before they traveled and received the balance after they completed their evidence.

The first witness, Aicha Conde, a lawyer herself, denied that she colluded with the accused to defraud the Tribunal.

Nshogoza has been accused of having tried to subvert court of justice in the trial of Kamuhanda by trying to bribe prosecution witnesses to retract their statements in favor of Kamuhanda who has already been convicted for genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004.

At ICTR, a person convicted of contempt of court faces a maximum sentence of five years or a fine of US $ 10,000 or both.

The first victim of this offence was a protected prosecution witness dubbed "GAA" who was sentenced to nine months imprisonment in December 2007 after being found guilty of contempt of court by the UN Tribunal.

Meanwhile, the trial of former National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) leaders is expected to resume on Monday with witnesses of former MRND Vice-President, Edouard Karemera.

The ICTR  earlier this month granted prosecution's motion to separate the ailing  genocide-accused, former MRND President , Mathieu Ngirumpatse, from the joint  trial of his two other colleagues.  

The case dubbed as "Karemera Trial" has been held back since August, 2008 because of the illness of the former MRND President.

The 70-year-old Ngirumpatse has been confined to bed for months now in a Nairobi hospital. The other accused in the joint trial is Joseph Nzirorera, Ex- Secretary General of the party.


© Hirondelle News Agency