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Trial of four Rwandan officials on genocide charges opens before UN tribunal

Trial of four Rwandan officials on genocide charges opens before UN tribunal

The trial of four senior Rwandan officials has opened before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), with the prosecution saying it will prove that they bear individual criminal responsibility for the 1994 genocide and defense lawyers saying their clients are innocent.

In opening remarks in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday, the prosecution, led by Don Webster, said evidence would prove that the accused committed the crimes against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu populations in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, as well as in Butare, Gisenyi and Gitarama and in the Cyangugu and Kibuye prefectures.

Facing seven counts of genocide and related crimes are Edouard Karemera, former minister of the Interior and vice chairman of the Mouvement revolutionnaire national pour le developpement (MRND party) and Andre Rwamakuba, former minister of Primary and Secondary Education and member of the Mouvement democratique republicain (MDR).

The other two facing the same charges are Mathieu Ngirumpatse, former director-general of Foreign Affairs in the Rwandan government and MRND chairman, and Joseph Nzirorera, former MRND secretary-general, Speaker of the Rwandan Parliament and former minister of Industry, Mines and Handicraft.

Defence counsel Didier Skoricki told the tribunal that his client, Mr. Karemera, and two other accused, Mr. Rwamakuba and Mr. Ngirumpatse, were the ones who had appealed to the international community to intervene and stop the killings.

The defence counsel for Mr. Nzirorera, Peter Robinson, said his client not only deplored the killings, but also had lost some of his own relatives in the genocide.