The joint trial of six persons charged with genocide, who came to be known as "the Butare Group," began today at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.
In its opening statement, the prosecution gave an overview of the prominent role played by the six persons accused of committing genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions in Butare, a famous religious and academic centre in Rwanda.
The prosecution told the court that it would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused were guilty of the crimes they were charged with and were criminally responsible for their actions and those of their subordinates. The prosecution said it would do so through presentation of documentary evidence, and evidence from expert and factual witnesses, proving that the accused caused action, made speeches, used the media, distributed arms and trained militia in committing the crimes.
The defence for the accused decided to make its opening statements after the Prosecution had concluded its presentation of evidence, as allowed by the Tribunal’s rules.
All the accused pleaded not guilty during their initial appearance.