Arusha, 25 September 2009 (FH) - The former  Rwandan Minister for Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware, was accused on Wednesday, at the opening of his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), of having spread "the gospel of genocide".

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Accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity, Ngirabatware, who is also the son-in-law of the businessman Felicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of the 1994 massacres in Rwanda, has pleaded not guilty.

In his opening statement, Wallace Kapaya, from the office of the prosecutor, affirmed that the former minister had held "several meetings" in his native region of Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, in 1994 "to spread the Gospel of the genocide".

Kapaya also accused the former minister of having distributed weapons to the Interahamwe militiamen, in the Nyamyumba commune, from where he hails.

He also stated that Ngirabatware had misused his portfolio to divert to the benefit of his party which was then in power, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), funds coming from various donors.

Meanwhile, the defence of the former Rwandan Deputy Governor, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity told the UN Court  Wednesday  that the massacres which took place in 1994 in the area, and the country at large, were just overwhelming for a mere administrative officer to put them under control.  

Making his opening statement for the defence of his client, Maroufa Diabira, lead defence counsel for the accused from Mauritanian said ‘Gisagara sub-prefect in Butare prefecture was not spared by the massacres and ruled out his client's involvement in the slaughter.

He said it was not possible that his client who served his nation well all of the sudden became a ‘'monster'' after April 6, 1994.

In another development, a former soldier with the Rwandan Non-Commissioned Officers School (ESO), Thursday denied that the commanders of the neighboring military camps attended a meeting at the school where soldiers were later ordered to rape and kill Tutsi women on April 7, 1994, just a day after the death of the former Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana.

The witness, code-named ‘'BTN'' to conceal his identity, was testifying for the defence of the former Commander of Ngoma Military Camp in Butare prefecture, southern Rwanda, Idelphonse Hategekimana, who is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and direct and public incitement to commit genocide, before the UN Tribunal.

Most part of the evidence of the witness, the second for the defence in this session, was mostly held behind closed doors.

The genocide-accused Gregoire Ndahimana, who was arrested last month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will make an initial appearance on Monday before the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the UN Court's Spokesman, Roland Amoussouga, confirmed Thursday.

The ICTR Prosecutor ICTR, Justice Hassan Jallow, has commended the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for arresting and swiftly transferring genocide accused Gregoire Ndahimana to the UN Tribunal's headquarters to face a trial.

Ndahimana was brought aboard a special UN plane on Sunday.

Ndahimana, who was Mayor of Rwandan town of Kivumu in 1994, was arrested on August 11 during operations against Rwandan rebels in North Kivu in the eastern Congo. He is wanted for helping organize the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

On Monday, the ICTR Appeals Chamber will commence the hearing of three appeal cases.

The appeal of Protais Zigiranyirazo, former brother-in-law of Rwandan President Juevenal Habyarimana, is scheduled for hearing on September 28; former Rwandan prosecutor, Simeon Nshamihigo is set for September 29 and the third, which involves the former Rwandan renowned musician, Simon Bikindi, will be heard on September 30.


© Hirondelle News Agency