Arusha, February 8, 2014 (FH) – France this week started its first ever trial linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Meanwhile the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced she has opened a preliminary investigation into crimes committed in the Central African Republic.

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Historic trial opens: The trial of former Rwandan intelligence officer Pascal Simbikangwa opened Tuesday before a French court. Simbikangwa is accused of arming and encouraging Hutu militia who carried out massacres of Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. He is the first person to go on trial in France for suspected involvement in the Rwandan genocide. The verdict could be handed down mid-March.

ICC/ CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLICProsecutor opens CAR investigation: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced on Friday she has opened a preliminary investigation into the situation in the Central African Republic. In the past year the CAR has been torn apart by deadly inter-communal violence, amid observer warnings of possible genocide.

SENEGAL/HABREVictims hail special court’s work: Lawyers for civil parties in the case against former Chadian president Hissène Habré have hailed the progress of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) set up within the Senegalese justice system to try Habré. Since the ex-leader’s indictment in July 2013, judges of this special court have conducted two rogatory missions to Chad. The EAC is one year old on Saturday, February 8.

NEXT WEEKICC: Confirmation of charges hearings are scheduled to continue all week in the case of dissident Congolese army officer Bosco Ntaganda.

ICTR: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is expected to hand down a judgment on Tuesday in the trial of former Rwandan army and gendarmerie bosses who were convicted by the lower court.

FRANCE: The Paris Appeals Court is set to continue hearings in the trial of Pascal Simbikangwa, the first person to be tried in France for suspected involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.