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Former Bourgmestre of Rusumo pleads not guilty to five counts

Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, former Bourgmestre of Rusumo commune in Kibungo prefecture, today pleaded not guilty to five counts charging him with genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity including extermination, murder and rape. The accused entered the plea when he made his initial appearance before Judge Lloyd George Williams.

Gacumbitsi, 54, is alleged to have organised campaigns in Rusumo commune, to incite Hutu civilians to kill their Tutsi neighbours resulting in thousands of deaths. The accused is also said to have killed persons by his own hand, ordered killings by subordinates and led several other attacks against Tutsis. Travelling around the commune to monitor the course of the massacres, the accused is also alleged to have distributed machetes and other weapons to facilitate the massacres.

The indictment also charges the accused with causing women to be raped.

Travelling along Nyarubuye road, the accused is said to have announced with a megaphone, " Search in the bushes, do not save a single snake. Hutu that save Tutsi would be killed. Tutsi girls that have always refused to sleep with Hutu should be raped and sticks placed in their genitals”.

Gacumbitsi was arrested on 20 June 2001 in Mukungwa refugee camp in Kigoma, Tanzania. He was transferred to the Tribunal's Detention Facility in Arusha on the same day.

Former Bourgmestre of Rukara transferred on 23 June 2001

Jean Mpambara, a former Bourgmestre of Rukara commune in Kibungo prefecture was transferred to the Tribunal’s Detention Facility in Arusha under Rule 40 bis (B), of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal, which empowers a Judge to order the transfer and provisional detention of a suspect.

The suspect was arrested by the Tanzanian Authorities pursuant to a request by the Prosecutor of the Tribunal in Mukungwa camp in Kigoma, Tanzania on 21 June 2001. He is suspected of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in 1994 in Rukara commune, Rwanda.

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