The United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda today began the trial of a former Rwandan education minister on charges that included directing a massacre against people who had taken refuge in hospitals – despite his refusal to attend the proceedings.
The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) decided to go forward with its trial against Andre Rwamakuba, Rwanda's minister for primary and secondary education during the 100-day killing spree between April and July 1994. He is accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and incitement to commit genocide.
The prosecution said it would present evidence that Mr. Rwamakuba conspired with other government officials to remain in power by exterminating the civilian Tutsi population and members of the Hutu opposition.
Mr. Rwamakuba, who maintains his innocence, refused to attend the proceedings but the presiding judge ordered the trial to continue despite his absence.
In addition to his conspiracy role, the prosecution charged that Mr. Rwamakuba, who is a physician, allegedly selected Tutsi patients for removal from National University Hospital in Butare and led massacres on the hospital premises. According to the indictment, he also struck wounded patients with clubs and allowed militiamen to kill women, disembowelling those who were pregnant.
Mr. Rwamakuba was arrested on 21 October 1998 in Windhoek, Namibia and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha two days later. In a court appearance on 21 March 2005, he pleaded guilty to all charges.
He is represented by David Hopper of the United Kingdom.
The genocide against some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda took place between April and June 1994, at a time when the Tutsis were a group protected by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.