Arusha, December 20, 2011 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is set to deliver its judgment Wednesday in the case of two former top Rwandan politicians. Matthieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera were respectively President and Vice-President of the former ruling party MRND. Both are accused of playing a leading role in the implementation of the 1994 genocide.

1 min 15Approximate reading time

They are charged with seven counts including genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed mostly by members of their party's youth wing, the Interahamwe. The two are indicted for their superior responsibility as top officials of the party. Both have pleaded not-guilty.

Their trial began in November 2003 but has been plagued by setbacks including Ngirumpatse's ill health. The case originally included two other suspects: former MRND Secretary General Joseph Nzirorera and former Education Minister Andre Rwamakuba. But in June 2005 Rwamakuba was granted a separate trial and he was finally acquitted on September 20, 2006. Nzirorera died on July 1, 2010, while presenting his defence case.

The prosecution fielded 46 witnesses, of whom 30 appeared in court and 16 gave written evidence. The prosecution completed its case in December 2007.

The defence called a total of 74 witnesses, of whom 35 for Karemera and 39 for Ngirumpatse, including the defendants themselves. Throughout their defence, Karemera and Ngirumpatse strongly denied that either they or their MRND party had the power to control the Interahamwe militia.

Ngirumpatse was born in 1939 in Ntare commune, Kigali Rural prefecture, and trained as a lawyer. He was President of the MRND party in 1994 and had been a member of its steering committee since 1993. Ngirumpatse was arrested in Mali on June 11, 1998, and transferred to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, a month later.

Karemera was born in Mwende commune, Kibuye prefecture, in 1951 and also trained as a lawyer. Like his co-accused, he held various senior positions, including Minister of Interior in the interim government in place during the genocide. He was arrested in Togo on June 5, 1998 and transferred to the UN Tribunal on July 10, 1998.


© Hirondelle News Agency