Arusha, March 11, 2010 (FH) - Canadian lawyer John Philpot will defend genocide-accused former senior army officer Ildephonse Nizeyimana before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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This will be Philpot's third case before the ICTR. He was lead counsel for Jean-Paul Akayesu, former mayor of Taba, who was convicted to life imprisonment in 1998 and his appeal dismissed in 2001.

He then successfully defended Protais Zigiranyirazo, known as "Mr.Z"., a brother in law of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana.

Charged with genocide, "Mr. Z" was sentenced to 20 years in jail by the lower court but acquitted on appeal on November 16, 2009.

Ildephonse Nizeyimana is notably prosecuted for killing Tutsis, including Rosalie Gicanda, the widow of the next to last king of Rwanda, Mutara III Rudahigwa.

The indictment further alleges that Nizeyimana participated in drawing up lists of Tutsi intellectuals to be killed, and highlights that the Captain was "a member of President Habyarimana‘s inner circle".

It goes on charging Nizeyimana with letting his men rape Tutsi girls and women, as part of a genocidal project. The ICTR is the first international court to have adopted a jurisprudence positing that rapes can be constituent elements of a collective plan to eliminate in part or in whole a racial or ethnic group.

According to the amended indictment, Nizeyimana "was viewed by the soldiers at ESO, as well as the Interahamwe and other militia in Butare prefecture as being a leader of those who held extremist anti-Tutsis views". It adds that "he exercised power, authority and influence amongst all soldiers, Interahamwe, other militia and armed civilians in the region beyond his de jure military rank".

Nizeyimana pleads not guilty.

He was second in command of the Noncommissioned Officers School (Ecole des sous-officiers, ESO) in the southern town of Butare at the time of the genocide.

He was arrested in Kampala (Uganda) on October 5 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha (Tanzania).

Nizeyimana, aged 46, told the court he was born in Mutura commune, in the prefecture of Gisenyi (northwest Rwanda).

He ran a small business in Goma (eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC) before his arrest.

Knowing he was wanted by the ICTR, he frequently changed his identity. He entered Uganda under the false name of Hitimana Kabogo. Nizeyimana was on a list of ICTR's twelve most wanted fugitives.

His trial is expected to start before mid-this year.


© Hirondelle News Agency