Former Rwandan military leader Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi today pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity when he made his initial appearance before Judge William Sekule.
The accused who was transferred from London to the Tribunal's Detention Facility in Arusha on 30 October 2000, entered a plea of not guilty to five counts charging him with genocide or in the alternative complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity including rape.
Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi (47), in his capacity as the most senior military officer responsible for security operations in Butare and Gikongoro prefectures, is alleged to have encouraged and facilitated the Interahamwe and soldiers to commit kidnappings and killings of Tutsis and Hutu moderates and destruction of property.
The accused, who was Commander of the Ecole des Sous Officiers (ESO-a military academy) in Butare, is also alleged to have failed or refused to assist those whose lives were in danger or who asked for his help, particularly in Groupe Scolaire, University of Butare and Ngoma Parish where Tutsi refugees were massacred.
He is further alleged to have participated, with other army officers, in the attack on wounded refugees at the University Hospital in Butare where Tutsis were separated from Hutus and killed.
The Prosecution also charges the accused with failing to prevent or put an end to rape and sexual violence committed by Interahamwe against women and girls even though he knew or had reason to know about them.
Muvunyi had been living in London since 1998 and was arrested by the United Kingdom authorities on 5 February 2000, on an international arrest warrant issued by the Tribunal. On 13 October 2000, he abandoned legal steps against his transfer to Arusha.