Arusha, October 5, 2010 (FH) - Closing arguments in genocide-accused Jean-Baptiste Gatete's case will be presented on November 8 before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Jean-Baptiste Gatete is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. He pleads not guilty.

Gatete was bourgmestre - mayor - of his native Murambi commune,in Byumba prefecture from 1987 until June 1993. He was a member of the National Congress of former ruling party MRND and was active in party politics both at national and provincial level.

Gatete was ousted as bourgmestre in 1993 amidst allegations that he persecuted the Tutsis of Murambi. He was then appointed Director in the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs, at the time headed by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who is also on trial before the ICTR.

According to the Prosecution, Gatete continued to hold sway over local police, gendarmes and militiamen in the Byumba and Kibungo prefectures after his dismissal. The indictment alleges that he used his influence to organize massacres of Tutsis in both prefectures.

Before hearing the closing arguments, Trial Chamber will visit the scene of the facts, traveling to Rwanda from October 26 to 30.

The defendant was arrested in Congo-Brazzaville on September 11, 2002, and subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.

His trial started on October 20, 2009. The Defence closed its case on March 29 after fielding 27 witnesses while the Prosecution had closed its case on November 16 having heard 22 witnesses.


© Hirondelle News Agency