Charged with genocide, former Rwandan mayor pleads innocent at UN tribunal

Charged with genocide, former Rwandan mayor pleads innocent at UN tribunal

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Appearing before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a former Rwandan mayor pleaded innocent today to all 10 counts charging him with involvement in the genocide that swept through the country in 1994.

Appearing before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a former Rwandan mayor pleaded innocent today to all 10 counts charging him with involvement in the genocide that swept through the country in 1994.

Jean-Baptiste Gatete, the former Mayor of Murambi Commune in Byumba prefecture, is charged with genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; crimes against humanity for extermination, murder, persecution and rape; and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

The 49-year old suspect is alleged to have led a campaign of terror against Tutsi civilians resulting in thousands of deaths in Byumba and Kibungo prefectures. "[The accused] killed persons by his own hand, specifically ordered killings by subordinates, and led attacks," the court was told today. Under his command and direction, the Interahamwe militias are alleged to have massacred several thousand Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge in Mukaranga, Rukara and Kiziguro churches.

Meanwhile in another genocide trial, the chamber hearing the case against three defendants accused of using the media to incite people to commit genocide denied their motion for acquittal.

While rejecting the motions filed by the defence teams for Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, Ferdinand Nahimana and Hassan Ngeze, the trial chamber did acquit Mr. Nahimana on one count and Mr. Barayagwiza on three counts.

Both defendants were acquitted on counts of crimes against humanity for murder, and Mr. Barayagwiza was also acquitted of two counts of serious violations of the Geneva Conventions for outrages against personal dignity and pillage.