Arusha, October 15, 2009 (FH) - The trial of Dismas Mukeshabatware, a famous Rwandan actor and playwright charged for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, started on Wednesday before a Gacaca Court in the Southern prefecture of Butare, according to Radio Rwanda.

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Inspired by Rwandan tradition, the Gacacas are charged with trying alleged authors of the 1994 genocide. The courts are presided not by professional judges, but by people regarded as of high esteem in the society.

The artist is charged for his role as an instigator of massacres of Tutsis which took place in Ngoma sector, in the Prefecture of Butare, the National radio added.

During his initial appearance before the Gacaca Court on Wednesday, Mukeshabatware claimed he was innocent.

Due to the absence of a co-defendant, one of Mukeshabatware's in-laws, the trial was suspended until October 28.

Mukeshabatware came to Ngoma in April 1994 from Kigali where he lived at the time. He was then a member of the well-known company Indamutsa which was part of Radio Rwanda. He continued to work for the national radio after the genocide.

Mukeshabatware is renowned for his sense of humour, his versatile talent of impersonation and his command of the subtleties of the Rwandan language. He hails from the former prefecture of Gikongoro, neighbouring the prefecture of Butare.


© Agence Hirondelle