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Former Bourgmestre of Mabanza Ignace Bagilishema pleads not guilty to seven counts in amended indictment

Ignace Bagilishema, a former Bourgmestre of Mabanza today pleaded not guilty to seven counts contained in a new amended indictment charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

The new plea follows a ruling by Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse, presiding, Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana and Mehmet Güney, granting motions by the Prosecutor for severance and amendment of the initial indictment which had jointly charged the accused with seven other persons. The Trial Chamber also removed the Prosecution=s proposed conspiracy charge. The accused had on 1 April 1999 pleaded not guilty to charges contained in the initial indictment.

In the new indictment Bagilishema is alleged to have murdered, assisted and conspired to murder thousands of Tutsis in Mabanza, Gitesi, Gishyita and Gisovu Communes within Kibuye prefecture.

Bagilishema (45) is alleged to have armed individuals and directed them to attack Tutsis residing in Kibuye prefecture. He is said to have personally attacked and killed persons residing and seeking refuge in Mabanza commune, Gatwaro stadium in Kibuye and Gitwa hill in the area of Bisesero.

The accused, the Prosecution told the Trial Chamber, did commit other inhumane acts including, but not limited to, persistently "searching for Tutsis, knowingly leading Tutsis to the massacre sites, and unlawfully confining the Tutsis at Gatwaro Stadium without water, sanitation or food, thereby forcing the Tutsis to eat grass".

On or about 17 April 1994, the accused is alleged to have ordered men, women and children into the Catholic Church and Home St. Jean Complex, and into the stadium in Kibuye, where he knew or had reason to know that an attack was going to occur. Massacres did indeed take place and thousands of people inside the complex and the stadium were killed or injured with the attackers using guns grenades, machetes, spears, cudgels and other weapons, the Prosecution said.

On 13 February 1999, Bagilishema, who had turned up in the Republic of South Africa, signed a declaration agreeing to surrender himself to the Tribunal. On 20 February 1999, the Tribunal served him with a warrant of arrest in Pretoria, where he had been detained by South African authorities in connection with his immigration status. He was transferred to the Tribunal Detention Facilities in Arusha the same day.

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