Arusha, February 12, 2010 (FH) - Stephen Rapp, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, reasserted on Tuesday that the alleged financier of the 1994 Rwanda genocide Felicien Kabuga was still hiding in Kenya.

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The American diplomat made this claim in Arusha where he had meetings with top officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), including President Judge Dennis Byron and the Chief Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow.

Rapp added that he would discuss Kabuga's arrest with Kenyan authorities.

Meanwhile, ICTR Thursday sentenced to 15 years imprisonment former Rwandan military officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi for his role in the 1994 genocide.

‘'Considering all relevant circumstances, the Chamber sentences Muvunyi to 15 years imprisonment and shall receive credit for his time served since he was arrested in the United Kingdom on 5 February, 2000,'' ordered the Presiding Judge Dennis Byron. The Chamber said that it found Muvunyi guilty beyond any reasonable doubt over a speech he gave at the Gikore Centre in May, 1994 which led to killings of ethnic Tutsis the next day.

This is the first judgment of the year at the UN court, established to try key suspects in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In another development, Gregoire Ndahimana, the former mayor of Kivumu, Western Rwanda, reiterated his not guilty plea at his further appearance before the ICTR, Tuesday, when confronted with three of the originally four charges that had been brought against him on September 28, 2009.

In the amended indictment, the remaining charges are: genocide or in the alternative complicity in genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.   

The opening date of his trial is still to be fixed.

General Augustin Bizimungu, the former Rwandan Army's chief of staff in 1994, denied on Wednesday any criminal conspiracy between him and three leaders of the then ruling MRND party who are on trial before ICTR.

General Bizimungu is awaiting the verdict in his own ICTR trial. He was summoned to appear by the defence of Joseph Nzirorera, the Secretary General of the MRND in 1994. In this joint trial, Nzirorera shares the defendant's bench with former MRND President Mathieu Ngirumpatse and the latter's erstwhile deputy, Edouard Karemera.

The trial of former Minister of Planning Augustin Ngirabatware is proceeding at such a slow pace as to increase concerns it won't be finished, as required, before the end of the year. Charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, Ngirabatware allegedly encouraged massacres of Tutsis in his hometown of Nyamyumba, Gisenyi prefecture. The Chamber heard only two Prosecution witnesses since the trial resumed on January 25.

The defence of genocide-accused former Rwandan businessman Gaspard Kanyarukiga Friday wrapped up its case after presenting a total of 22 witnesses.

The three-bench Chamber presided by Judge Taghrid Hikmet is expected next week to set a date for the closing briefs and to decide wether it is necessary to visit the site of the alleged killings in Rwanda.

The prosecution completed its case on September 17 after fielding eleven witnesses. The defence began its case on January 18.


© Hirondelle News Agency