The first joint trial in the history of the ICTR began on Friday, 11 April 1997 before Trial Chamber 2 of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This is a joint trial of Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana for their alleged participation in the same transaction of the massacre of Tutsis in Kibuye Prefecture between April and June 1994.
The morning sitting was devoted to opening statements and presentation of the evidence by the Prosecution. Counsel for Clément Kayishema focused his opening statement on the difficulties experienced by the Defence in being able to conduct investigations appropriately. His coIleeague, Counsel for Obed Ruzindana, for his part, reserved his statement until after the examination of all the prosecution witnesses. The examination and cross-exarnination of the first prosecution witness began this afternoon.
Yesterday, the Tribunal rejected the Prosecutor's motion proposing a new superseding indictment severing the accused Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana from their co-accused in this case, and consolidating the counts against them in the first amended indictment of 29 April 1996. Trial Chamber 2, however, declared itself favourable to a consolidation and simplification of that indictment. The trial, therefore, began on the basis of the first amended indictment.
Clément Kayishema is charged on 24 counts and six against Obed Ruzindana. Both accused pleaded not guilty.
As ordered by the Chamber, at the start of the trial, the Prosecution presented the amended indictment of 29 April 1997 on which it had redacted and deleted the names of the other six accused, who are not yet in custody, and cancelled the first count of “conspiracy to commit genocide".
Clément Kayishema was born in 1954 in Bwishyura sector, Gitesi commune in Kibuye Prefecture. At the time of the events, he was Prefect of Kibuye. He was arrested in Zambia on 10 October 1995 and transferred to Arusha on 26 May 1996. He made his initial appearance before the ICTR on 31 May 1996.
Obed Ruzindana is believed to have been born in 1962 in Gisovu sector, Gisovu commune in Kibuye Prefecture. He was a commercial trader in Kigali. He was arrested in Kenya on 20 September 1996 and was transferred to Arusha on the 22nd of the same month. He made his initial appearance before the Tribunal on 29 October 1996.
The trial will continue during the coming weeks with the hearing of prosecution witnesses.