At UN tribunal, former Rwandan official pleads 'not guilty' to genocide charges

At UN tribunal, former Rwandan official pleads 'not guilty' to genocide charges

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A former Rwandan Bourgmestre - or senior municipal official - today pleaded not guilty to one count of genocide in his initial appearance before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Jean Mpambara, of Rukara commune, is alleged to have been involved in attacks against Tutsis in his commune, including by promoting anti-Tutsi propaganda, training Interahamwe militias and distributing weapons.

The prosecution further alleges that sexual violence in Rukara commune was so widespread and so integrally incorporated in generalized attacks against civilian Tutsis that Mr. Mpambara must have known that it was occurring and that the perpetrators were his subordinates, subject to his control and acting under his orders.

The accused told the Tribunal today that he was a victim of mistaken identity and that the circumstances of his arrest were illegal.

Mr. Mpambara, 47, was arrested in a refugee camp in Tanzania on 21 June and transferred to the Tribunal's Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania.