17.01.11 - ICTR/NIZEYIMANA - PROSECUTION COMMENCES ITS CASE AGAINST FORMER MILITARY OFFICER

Arusha, January 17, 2011 (FH)- The prosecution Monday commenced its case against former Rwandan military officer, Captain ldephonse Nizeyimana, accusing him of, among others, specifically ordering the murder of individual Tutsis, including Queen Rosalie Gicanda at her home on April 21, 1994.
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"There are myriad examples of Captain Nizeyimana ordering those under his influence to attack, kill and rape civilians identified as Tutsi. (Witness) ZAR describes how the soldiers arrived at the Gicanda home, abducted them at gunpoint, drove them first to the ESO (Noncommissioned Officers School," Senior Trial Attorney Drew White said when presenting opening statement of prosecution's case.

Thereafter, the prosecutor submitted, members of the family were later taken to a rural area where "the soldiers ordered everyone out of the car and while the group was saying prayers, the soldiers shot at them. ZAP saw that the elderly Tutsi queen Rosalie Gicanda had been shot. ZAP herself was wounded but managed to survive."

White identified key places where thousands of Tutsis were killed as at Butare Hospital, Butare University, Cyahinda Parish and at Butare main streets, including MRND meeting hall, Hotel Ibis, Hotel Faucon, Communal office and at the house of Queen Rosalie Gicanda, among others.

The prosecutor said they would prove beyond reasonable doubt that Capt. Nizeyimana was criminal responsible for crimes charged in the indictment for having planned, ordered, instigated, committed or otherwise aided or abetted in the commission of crimes, as a key participant in a joint criminal enterprise whose object was destruction of Tutsis in Butare prefecture.

In the indictment, the prosecution charges the former army officer of genocide and extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity and murder and rape as violation of Geneva Conventions and Common and Protocol II, respectively. The offences were allegedly committed in the prefecture (South Rwanda) between April and May 1994.

White charged further that the prosecution's case would include eye witnesses from civilians, many of whom were victims, military witnesses perhaps ten or more, some of them were co-perpetrators with the accused and all of them would speak directly to his acts and conduct and would demonstrate how he acted both in his personal capacity as influential leader when he issued instructions, directions or approvals.

"Evidence will further show that in course of the killings, the accused was at all times aware that the attacks were part of a broader widespread or systematic attack on the Tutsi civilian population and that he used his authority as an officer and a leader in the forces to actively undermine public order in furtherance of the criminal enterprise," he claimed.

The prosecutor alleged that during the time the offences were committed, Nizeyimana was a member of a group of individuals from Gisenyi prefecture, who formed an influential corps aligned with the interests of northern Rwandans and was viewed by soldiers of Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), the interahamwe militia and other militia in Burate prefecture as being a leader of those who held extremist anti-Tutsi views.

"He exercised substantial power, authority and influence amongst all FAR soldiers, the Interahamwe and other militia and armed civilians in the region beyond his military rank. As a result, he had control over all armed forces who were under his immediate command. (He) could order such persons to commit or to refrain from committing unlawful acts and could discipline or punish them for unlawful acts or omission due to his command, control, authority or influence," he said.

According to the prosecutor, the accused could have exercised his authority and influence to save lives of Rwandan citizens, but chose to do otherwise and such choice was premised on his individual acceptance of a collective genocidal philosophy that extended through Rwanda.

In his brief reply, lead counsel for the accused told the chamber that the defence would contest all factual allegations against his client. After the opening statements, the prosecution called its first witness codenamed ZEB to start giving the evidence against the accused.

Capt. Nizeyimana, who was allegedly second in command in charge of intelligence and military operations of Noncommissioned Officers School (ESO) was arrested in Uganda on October 5, 2009 and transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania the following day.

He pleaded not guilty to the six charges on October 7, 2010, in his further appearance before the Tribunal. He had made his initial appearance on October 14, 2009.

FK/ER/GF

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