Laurent Semanza, the former Bourgmestre of Bicumbi commune today pleaded not guilty to seven new counts in the Prosecutors indictement against him, as well as to previous charges. The seven new counts bring the total number of charges against Semanza to14.
The new counts mostly concern alleged rapes of Tutsi women and other outrages upon their personal dignity. Counsel for the Prosecutor Mr. David Spencer said that ongoing investigations had brought to light fresh evidence against Semanza and additional witnesses who were not known at the time of the original presentation of this indictment.
In the light of the judgement in the case of Jean-Paul Akayesu on 2 September 1998, investigators are vigorously pursuing lines of enquiry relating to sexual violence. In that judgement, the Tribunal gave the first definition in international law of rape and held that rape and other forms of sexual violence could constitute genocide.
Laurent Semanza was arrested in Cameroon and transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha in November 1997.